New Year Resolutions into Success
Less than 10% of people stick to their New Years Resolutions for more than a few months. Here’s why & what to do instead!
New Year’s resolutions are a time-honoured tradition, with millions of people around the world resolving to make positive changes in their lives as the calendar turns over to a new year. But despite the best of intentions, many of us find that our resolutions quickly fall by the wayside, with studies suggesting that as few as 8% of people are able to stick to their resolutions for more than a few months. So why do new year resolutions so often fail? And how do we achieve success with our goals in 2023?
Why New Year Resolutions Fail…
One reason new year resolutions fail is that they are often too broad or unrealistic. It’s easy to make grand proclamations about wanting to “earn more money” or “get in shape”, but these goals are too vague to be actionable. Without a clear plan of attack and specific, measurable targets, it’s hard to stay motivated and make progress.
Another reason that new year resolutions fail is that they often rely on sheer willpower alone. While determination and self-control are important, they are limited resources that can be easily depleted. This is especially true when it comes to trying to break bad habits or form new ones, as these require a consistent, sustained effort over time. Without a solid plan in place to support your efforts, it’s easy to fall back into old patterns of behaviour…
Goals are the destination you want to reach, while habits are the road map you follow to get there.
One approach that has proven to be effective in achieving goals is focusing on building habits. Habits are automatic, unconscious behaviors that we engage in on a regular basis, and they play a huge role in shaping our lives and influencing our wellbeing and performance.
The key to building habits is to start small and focus on making incremental changes. Rather than trying to overhaul your entire life at once, choose one specific area where you want to make a change and start there. For example, if you want to get in shape, you might start by going for a daily walk or doing a few push-ups every morning. As these habits become ingrained, you can slowly build on them by adding in additional activities or increasing the frequency or intensity of your workouts.
Another important aspect of building habits is to make them a consistent part of your routine. Research has shown that it takes an average of 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic, so it’s important to be consistent and stick with it until the habit becomes second nature. This is where the concept of “habit stacking” and “implementation intentions” can be helpful…
Habit stacking involves linking a new habit to an existing one that you already do consistently, such as brushing your teeth before bed or drinking your morning coffee. By piggybacking on these already established habits, you can make it easier to remember to do your new habit as well. For example, you might practice your new habit of journaling or writing a to-do list for the day at the same time as your existing ingrained habit of drinking your morning coffee.
Implementation intentions are specific plans that outline the steps you will take to turn a goal into a reality. It is a powerful tool in habit building because it helps you to bridge the gap between your intentions and actions by making your goals more concrete and specific. An implementation intention for someone who wants to exercise more might be:
“I will go for a 30-minute walk in the morning starting next week, on a Monday, Wednesday and Friday.”
This implementation intention specifies the behaviour (going for a walk), the frequency (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), the duration (30 minutes), and the start date (next week).
By making your intentions specific and concrete, and stacking new habits with existing ones, its becomes much easier to actually follow through and make progress towards your goals as a consistent part of your daily or weekly routine.
Achieving success with your Goals in 2023…
Focusing on your wellbeing and resilience will also increase your chances of success!
In addition to the benefits of building habits, focusing on your wellbeing and resilience can also increase your chances of success. Wellbeing refers to a state of physical, mental, and emotional health, and it is closely linked to overall happiness and satisfaction with life.
By prioritizing your wellbeing, you can set the foundation for success in other areas of your life. This might include things like getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet, exercising regularly, and taking time to relax and recharge.
Resilience, on the other hand, is a set of learned abilities that enable us to respond positively to adversity and cope with challenges. It’s an important trait to cultivate for maximising wellbeing, as it helps us to weather the ups and downs of life and stay focused on our goals. Some strategies for building resilience include developing mindset and emotion awareness, nurturing supportive relationships, setting realistic expectations, and taking time to practice self-care.
To summarise, new year resolutions often fail because they are too broad, unrealistic, or rely on willpower alone. To increase your chances of success imagine willpower doesn’t exist! Instead, focus on building daily habits that ensure progress not perfection, and include prioritising your wellbeing and resilience! Start small and make incremental changes, and be consistent in your efforts… building habits that support your goals and cultivate a foundation of wellbeing and resilience.
Happy New Year! Wishing you & your family all the very best 🙂
Ripen exists to teach people how to maximise their wellbeing and performance! We are based in Australia, but our clients are global and since 2016 we’ve delivered Personal Resilience training to thousands of individuals and teams in 25+ countries and multiple languages. We specialise in working with remote or hybrid working teams across the globe.
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- Lally, P., van Jaarsveld, C. H., Potts, H. W., & Wardle, J. (2010). How are habits formed: Modelling habit formation in the real world. European Journal of Social Psychology, 40(6), 998-1009.
- Duhigg, C. (2012). The power of habit: Why we do what we do in life and business. Random House.
- Wood, W., Tam, L., & Witt, M. G. (2005). Changing circumstances, disrupting habits. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 88(6), 918-933.