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Say Goodbye to Unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions

Holly_Johnston contributor

It’s mid-January. Chances are you’ve already lost momentum with your New Year's resolution.

Guess what? You’re not alone. Research shows that “by February, as many as 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned.” January 1st gym membership enrollments have become a running joke (no pun intended).

New Year’s resolutions start out exciting but can quickly become frustrating.

It’s easy to get overwhelmed and start convincing yourself that the whole idea was silly anyway.

But maybe it’s not that New Year’s Resolutions are a waste of time, it’s more that we don’t invest enough time in making them.

Is your resolution unrealistic? Keep reading this article to learn how to make steady progress all year long.

Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail

Before we get into how to make resolutions more achievable, let’s first address why they fail. This article discusses the mistakes we make when making New Year’s resolutions. We either take on too much, go way overboard, or are not specific enough. We overestimate our goals while also underestimating ourselves.

And let’s not forget about the evil forces of procrastination and self-sabotage. Like two high school bullies, they convince you they’re your friend and then plot to ruin your life... and they’re sneaky about it.

This article identifies 6 different styles of procrastination. Chances are, one of these is (or all of them are) preventing you from achieving your goal.

Perhaps you didn't know you had low frustration tolerance (LFT) which can make it hard to stick to plans. Resistance is a real con artist.

Let’s discuss how to make stronger more achievable resolutions;

Make it specific

The more specific you make your resolution, the more likely you are to stick to it.

The SMART goal acronym is a good way to assess your goal. SMART stands for:

  • Specific,

  • Measurable

  • Achievable,

  • Relevant/ Realistic

  • Time-bound.

Write down your goal in as much detail as possible.

If you want to lose weight or gain muscle, how much are you hoping to lose/ gain?

If you want to achieve a healthier lifestyle, what are the specific habits you hope to put in place? (ie start exercising, drink more water).

Maybe you want to eat a certain quantity of servings of fruit a day or exercise for a fixed amount of time every morning.

Make it clear

There’s a reason they’re called New Year’s resolutions- because they take time! We need our goals to be gradual, sustainable, and supported by a system of habitual behavior.”

List out the steps

Don’t forget that even the tiniest steps count as momentum, even if they seem insignificant.

I once took an online course, where the instructor said “opening your laptop counts as one step.” Week after week, you will notice the effect of the accumulation of small actions.

Identify the first step you need to take, and go from there.

Do your research

Ask yourself, what resources or skills you will need in order to obtain your goal. Are these obtainable? Is your plan realistic?

Don’t forget to create a list of potential drawbacks that could occur. Create a plan for managing experiences of failure. If some aspect of your goal doesn't go to plan, how can you overcome this?

Make it Meaningful

Don’t forget the ‘why’

Sometimes when we make goals, we don’t think to ask why we want them. These questions will help you get in touch with the meaning behind your goals.

Get a little emotional

Get in touch with the feelings you expect to feel when you achieve your goal. Ask yourself how this achievement might change your life, good and bad.

Make it happen

If you’re not where you want to be with your New Year’s resolution, don’t feel discouraged. Remember that resistance is a con artist. becoming aware of your procrastination style can help you alter your behavior. Don't forget that the smallest steps toward your goal count. The only way to make real change is through consistent gradual effort. Be patient with yourself.

Whatever your dream accomplishment in 2023 is, you’ve got this!

What are your “new and improved” New Year’s Resolutions? Share them in the comments below!