Forbes reports that “studies have shown that approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail”. What a statistic!
Why are we so unlikely to succeed and stick with our new Year’s Resolutions?
I believe there are a few reasons. In this blog, I’ll discuss these reasons and how to change the way you approach your New Year’s resolutions to make them much more likely to stick.
One reason that resolutions don’t often succeed is that people ask too much of themselves too quickly, and often they are making resolutions that aren’t long-term sustainable.
While there is something to be said for immense effort for quick change as a strategy, most of the time it’s not the best fit for people.
Rather, I encourage my clients to think about habits that they should be doing anyway, and that they could be doing for the rest of their lives.
In other words, most people don’t plan to do 2 hours of exercise, six days per week for the rest of their lives. Most people wouldn’t want to count every calorie and macro for the rest of their lives, either.
So instead, think about habits that would be great healthy practices that you could see yourself sustaining for the rest of your life, but which you’re not currently consistent with.
For example, resolutions like this could include:
-Drinking lots of water, at least half your body weight in ounces (caffeinated beverages don’t count)
-Finishing eating 3 hours before bedtime
-Exercising 4 hours per week, however that pans out
-Having 2 days per week where you eat no refined food like sugar and flour and fried food
-Drinking 16 oz of green juice 4 days per week
-Journaling 1 page per day as a way to stay connected with yourself for emotional health
These are great resolutions because they are possibly habits you could sustain long-term, unlike 12 hours of exercise per week or eating only one meal per day. This doesn’t mean you couldn’t eventually improve even on these habits.
In other words, maybe in six months you decide you could swing 6 hours per week working out rather than 4, or you could skip refined foods for 3 days a week rather than 2. But for now, start with something long-term.
So, the first tip is to choose resolutions that are sustainable, but ones that you know you really should be doing but aren’t.
The second reason resolutions don’t stick is that most people aren’t examining the underlying mental and emotional reasons as to why they have poor habits in the first place.
And so, because root cause issues aren’t being addressed, eventually we default back to our old habits and our comfort zones.
For example, if you eat ice cream late at night most nights because you feel sad about something, you’ll probably eventually default back to this habit until you address the reasons why you’re sad.
Or if you drink wine most nights because you’re so stressed and burnt out from work, to really change, you’ll likely need to change the situations that burn you out, as well as the emotions and beliefs that drive you to work too much at your own expense.
This doesn’t mean you can’t make physical resolutions and pursue them, but I advise that while you’re doing that, also address why your habits have been what they are.
As you’re considering what habits you want to change in the future, you should also reflect in retrospect about why your habits have been what they are.
A Happy New Year to you!