What are New Year’s Resolutions? Why do we make them? And why do they fail?
A New Year’s Resolution is a tradition in which a person makes a promise to do an act of improvement on New Year’s Day. Resolutions are made for a variety of reasons, but most people view the New Year as a good time to wipe the slate clean and have a fresh start at tackling personal goals. Some of the most popular resolutions in recent years have been: Lose weight; Spend less/Save more; Exercise more; Get organized; Quit smoking; Help others.
Although well intended, success rates for Resolutions are not great:
- 45% of Americans usually make them
- 39% of people in their 20’s achieve them
- 14% of people in their 50’s achieve them
- 8% of people overall achieve them
Additionally, these Resolutions are often short-lived:
- 75% are maintained for 1 week
- 71% are maintained for 2 weeks
- 64% are maintained for 1 month
- 46% are maintained for 6 months
Most Resolutions fail and/or don’t last due to any combination of the following: lack of appropriate reasoning for making the resolution, lack of support, lack of accountability, lack of a plan, and lack of self-confidence. There is good news, though, for those who do make the attempt: People who make explicit resolutions are ten times more likely to attain goals than those who don’t.
How, then, can resolutions be made for success and made to last? One of the keys to making a quality resolution is to set a SMART goal. A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
- Target a specific area for improvement
- Establish/quantify criteria to indicate progress
- Results must be achievable given available resources
- Goal must be reachable given the terms of it
- Identify when results will be achieved
Here are a few examples of some possible goals and how they may be transformed into SMART goals:
- GOAL: I will eat healthier.
- SMART GOAL: I will eat two servings of vegetables at supper, 4 nights per week.
- GOAL: I will start exercising.
- SMART GOAL: On Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, I will walk for 10 minutes each time I am on break.
- GOAL: I will spend less money.
- SMART GOAL: Starting next week, I will limit eating out at restaurants to only three times per week.
Other tips for success include: being a realistic optimist, knowing yourself and your surroundings, adjusting expectations and plans as necessary, having a plan B (and C), letting go of negativity, practicing self-compassion, and giving yourself credit when credit is due. This year, set your intentions with thoughtfulness and confidence. The bottom line is that setting goals and making resolutions is a great way to focus on self-improvement all year long and no matter the desired outcome.
Cheers to 2018 and to an improved you!
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