New seasons, transitions, and changes often leads to resolutions and the drive to set new goals. Examples include saving money, reading more, drinking less alcohol, exercising more, consuming more water, getting fit, or sleeping 8 hours each night. Year after year, however, individuals fail to live up to such goals and resolutions. In fact, research suggests that only 8% of people in the population achieve their spoken New Year’s resolutions. The first two weeks may go well, but eventually reality hits and excuses are made.
In order for resolutions or lifestyle changes to stick, it’s important to do several things.
- Change your thinking: Behaviors are heavily influenced by our thoughts, and the motivation to execute a resolution stems from our mental thought processes. In our minds, individuals often gravitate towards instant gratification rather than delayed gratification. Instead of seeing resolutions as chores or tasks, consider it as a privilege or way to take care of you. Rewire the brain to focus on benefits rather than potential costs. Likewise, remind yourself that resolutions don’t have to have a time limit—time is how we assign meaning but time doesn’t have to be so constricting. These resolutions can become lifestyle changes that have no time limit.
- Set realistic goals: A recipe for failure is setting lofty, unattainable goals and unrealistic expectations. If individuals constantly fail at something, they likely start to believe that change is impossible to achieve and will throw in the towel. Instead of focusing on the destination or outcome, focus on the process and the specific tasks needed that day to achieve a specific goal. For example, someone who wants to run a full marathon wouldn’t go run 26.2 miles on day 1, rather they would gradually increase the mileage week by week. Shortcuts do not exist and change does not happen over night.
- Appreciate Failure: Life is full of curves, twists, and turns, and when new goals or set, obstacles will happen. Instead of labeling failure as negative or bad, remind yourself that failure is necessary for growth, success, learning, and achievement. Each defeat is a teachable moment, and often something that is more impactful than a victory. Life is dynamic, so why should you expect your successes to occur without ebb and flow?