For the first time in my life, I decided to create my own resolutions.
Initially, I was slightly hesitant because I’ve heard how difficult it is to maintain these year-long goals from friends and family.
It turns out they weren’t the only ones.
A study at the University of Scranton suggests that over 92% of Americans who create resolutions each year are not successful in achieving their resolutions.
Before diving into building my own resolutions, I decided to find out why it’s so damn hard to stick to these year-long goals.
I compiled all the research, and findings from friends that have successfully completed their New Year’s Resolutions to highlight the key takeaways.
Here’s a step-by-step guide you should follow to become the 8%.
Find the one.
You want to lose weight, write a book, learn how to code, make a million dollars, and find “the one.” It’s amazing how overly ambitious we can feel when we’re watching the pretty fireworks, and counting down the last few seconds of the year with our loved ones.
Let’s get realistic.
“When people tried to memorize more information, their willpower suffered. The more goals the subjects made, the less likely they were to achieve them. This means setting too many goals only works against your success.”
Instead, once you’ve made a list of the goals you want to achieve this year, cross all of them off except for “the one.” This one resolution should be a goal that would make the most impact in your life.
For me, it was to become a better writer. If you’re having a difficult time choosing one, here’s a list of the most popular New Year’s resolutions.
Found “the one?”
Now that you found the one resolution that will make the most impact on your life — we need to take action.
Taking action means breaking down your one resolution from a general goal into smaller actions you can take on a regular basis. These small actions need to be specific, measurable & time-based.
Here are a few examples:
- Goal: Become a better writer.
Action: Write a blog post by every Monday.
- Goal: Manage stress.
Action: Register for weekly hot yoga classes.
- Goal: Lose weight.
Action: Run for 30-minutes everyday at the gym next to work.
According to the Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit, the number one reason why we’re unable to keep our resolutions is that we’re simply designing them wrong.
“People design them incorrectly — very often they write out a list of goals, rather than writing a list of actions they’re going to take and thinking hard about how to structure those behaviors so that they become habits.” — Duhigg, author of The Power of Habit
Having only a general goal without a planned course of action is like having an address to your destination without a map. Creating specific actions allows us take immediate steps to achieving our goals.
Share it or lose it
Talk to someone else about your resolution.
A friend, family member, partner. Anyone.
Even that Facebook friend that you‘ve never actually met in real life.
Just share it.
When individuals share their goals with others, especially friends, they are being held accountable to those closest to them. Disappointing yourself is one thing, but disappointing your 1,378 friends on Facebook is a whole other problem.
Sharing also builds a support system that will help you get through the inevitable tough times. Your friends are less likely to tempt you by bringing a tub of Häagen-Dazs ice-cream to your place if you’ve told them that you’re trying to lose weight.
“Resolutions are more sustainable when shared, both in terms of with whom you share the benefits of your resolution, and with whom you share the path of maintaining your resolution. Peer-support makes a difference in success rate with new year’s resolutions” — Frank Ra, author of A Course In Happiness
You set a goal to go to the gym everyday on January 1st, in order to lose weight. By January 15th, you’re laying down on the couch eating Ketchup flavoured Lay’s potato chips watching How I Met Your Mother.
How many times have we heard this story before?
It turns out that 30-days is just the time we need in order to make a habit stick. This also works for subtracting a habit. This means, if you can make it in the initial 30-days, your goal becomes much easier to sustain. Here’s a TED Talk video that explains the 30-day rule.
Remember that the first 3o-days will always be the hardest. Don’t make the mistake of putting all your eggs in one basket by killing yourself in January. This is a long journey and you need to take this one day at a time.
At the end of the day, we’re all human.
We all have busy lives, distractions and temptations to deal with.
It’s not going to be easy, and you’re going to make mistakes. Lots of them.
What commonly happens, particularly for perfectionists like myself, is that they would miss their resolution goal for the day— then quit. Don’t give up a years worth of personal improvement that could change your life because you missed 1/365 days of the year. You’ve got 364 left!
Just remember, it is OK.
If you miss a day at the gym.
It is OK.
If you couldn’t resist that chocolate-chip muffin in the fridge.
It is OK.
Make mistakes. Grow. Smile. Share. Make more mistakes.
Then get your butt up and start again!
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