New year resolutions! Each year, countless people set them and then fail to do much about them.
For instance, one of the most popular of new year resolutions is to lose weight. Yet, after the usual enormous surge in gym subscriptions, business is back to normal a month or so later, the weight stays comfortably where it is, and the gym equipment is readily available once more.
People are clearly sincere in making new year resolutions, and yet they consistently fail to achieve them. Why might that be?
There are many reasons, but one major one is that without a strong internal drive to succeed and achieve the goal, then it is bound to falter as our countless ingrained habits and secret internal motivations make themselves felt. Here is a useful article on this topic. As the author states:
“Change will only come once you’re convinced that staying with your current routine is uncomfortable and your present situation is unacceptable. Unfortunately most people have to hit rock bottom for this to happen.”
Hence, if you have ever wondered why your own ability to achieve your new year resolutions is low, it might just be that you don’t need or want them badly enough. The short-term comfort you currently enjoy exceeds the long-term effort required to take yourself to a new and higher level.
The good thing about the end of one year and the beginning of the new is that it focuses people on their own lives and where they are going… or not going. This is a worthwhile focus to have, but it is not something that needs to be confined to this time of year alone. Instead of just new year resolutions, you can resolve to change yourself at literally any time of the year. This is well worth remembering. Hence, even if your new year resolutions fail, it is not a disaster. You can re-commence in February, or whenever. As stated in this excellent article about why new year’s resolutions fail, “the truth is that changing your ways is a year-long process and if you fail your resolution by February, you can try again in March.”
If you are lacking ideas on which specific goals to set, here is a useful list of new years resolutions. It may give you some ideas of worthy goals to aspire to for yourself. The authors also include useful tips on how to overcome the roadblocks associated with each specific resolution.
Also, as I myself have stated in a previous post about new year resolutions on this site:
“So what is it that makes the difference? What is it that causes some people to fail and others to succeed in life, in goals and in new year resolutions?…
The answer is… (1) a clearly defined system for achieving those goals and keeping on track, coupled with (2) solid reasons for WHY you want this, backed up with (3) strong will and emotional commitment to succeed.”
It is so important that you realize that your brain is not naturally wired for goal achievement. Rather, we are wired for safety and maintaining the status quo. In fact, as discussed in an article on the science of new year resolutions by Leo Widrich, Science has demonstrated that “when you set a New Year’s resolution, an enormous amount of willpower is required. It’s an amount that your brain simply can’t handle.” In other words, your brain is just like a muscle in your body. If you try to overload it with more than it can stand, i.e. if you have not previously trained it to take the weight through repeated training, it will surely fail.
As the above article points out, willpower is not something that we have an abundance of. Hence, it is important to understand your mind and what it is capable of… as well as what it is not capable of!
Finally, remember that in order to succeed, you need to actually commit! Most people have no idea what commitment really means and are not prepared to pay the price is almost certainly will entail. As stated in the excellent article, 5 Reasons Your New Years Resolution Is Destined To Fail:
“If you decide that you want to stop smoking, but you keep ashtrays in your house (just in case), you’re not willing to burn your boats—your whole heart isn’t into the attempt, and you’re going to fail the first time your willpower is challenged. If you really want to resolve to do something, put yourself in a situation where you can’t go back at all, or at least not without great difficulty. Burn your boats and believe that you’re going to find a way or make a way to stick to this.”
Tony Robbins points out in the video below that by January 15th, 95% of people who actually bothered to make new year resolutions have already failed to keep them! In fact, as he mentions, for most people these resolutions are nothing more than a wish list, i.e. what they wish would happen…
However, there is all the difference in the world between wishing and taking the determined, consistent action required to make these dreams a reality.
So, in conclusion, it is an excellent thing to set goals and resolutions; to strive to achieve something better in your life. This is to be commended. However, a realistic awareness of what you are setting out to do is critical. Along with this, you need a proper appreciation of the obstacles (both internal and external) that you will face, combined with the determination to do whatever it takes for as long as it takes, and to pay the price that is required for ultimate success.
If you do this, and heed the issues raised in this article, then you have a high chance of achieving your new year resolutions, and even setting new ones in the year to come!