Most of the talk about New Year’s Resolutions is just that – talk. Despite all of our good intentions, most of us won’t achieve our goals for the year. Research released by the University of Scranton Psychology Department reports that only 8 percent of Americans are regularly successful in achieving their resolution. 49 percent achieve occasional success, and 24 percent are never successful. So in other words, the odds are stacked against you even if you set a goal for the New Year
Here are three reasons why most of us will fail:
- We don’t bother to make a resolution or set a goal for the year. The University of Scranton study states that only 45 percent of Americans usually make a New Year’s Resolution. So if you are one of the 55 percent who don’t resolve to reach a new goal in the coming year, at least you are being honest with yourself.
- We aren’t emotionally ready to make a change. Let’s face it – it is not like you didn’t already know that you needed to make a change. Most resolutions are about losing weight, getting fit, stopping smoking, spending more time with family, saving more, etc. I promise that no one mentioned that you should do any of these things at a New Year’s Eve party and you responded with, “That’s brilliant. I need to do that.” People change because of emotional readiness not intellectual understanding.
- We lack the discipline to turn good intention into changed behavior and performance. Let’s go back to the research from the University of Scranton. 75 percent of us are able to maintain our resolution through the first week, but only 49 percent are capable of doing so for six months.
What it Takes
I weigh – depending on the day – 45 to 50 pounds less today than I did at the age of 23. I’ve been able to maintain that weight for over 25 years.
There are lots of other areas where I don’t have that same level of discipline and commitment. I could, however. You could, too. Here are three ideas to help us all beat the odds on achieving our resolutions.
- Get emotionally ready. There are two basic reasons why people change: crisis pushes them to change or opportunity pulls them to change. You have to get completely focused on the crisis to be averted or the opportunity to be secured. And, you have to really want it. I mean gut-wrenching to the bottom of your soul want it. Otherwise, you won’t stick with it when it is inconvenient.
- Understand what it really takes to change. Be realistic about the level of work it takes to make the transformation you want. Put processes in place to help you stay on track, and surround yourself with people who support you enough to help you be accountable.
- Celebrate your victories and take your setbacks personally. We should celebrate progress – large and small – toward our goals. And, I know from first-hand experience that it is easy to allow yourself to overlook and disregard setbacks. I celebrate every day that I maintain my goal weight, and I take it very personally when I go over that goal weight for more than a week. You have to be relentless in both.
Here’s hoping that 2014 brings you everything that you are committed and disciplined enough to achieve.