For many people, January is seen as a clean slate, an opportunity to start fresh and leave missteps in the past. According to research, around 60 percent of Americans make resolutions every year. Dieting or eating healthier, exercising more, sticking to a budget, learning a new skill and quitting smoking are some of the most frequently reported resolutions; unfortunately, only about 8 percent of people are successful.|
If you’re one of the many people who struggle to stick to resolutions, keep an eye out for these common signs of ill-fated intentions.
You make the same resolutions year after year.
Telling yourself every January that you are going to make a specific change, and then not doing it, can be frustrating and demoralizing.
Turn it around for success: When making resolutions, most people write down a list of outcomes, but behaviors need to change first. Resolutions should be actions that you are willing and able to take. You might want to lose weight, for example, but are you willing to change how you eat and start exercising regularly? If the answer is "no," save the resolution for a time when you can honestly say "yes."
You have three or more resolutions.
When trying to make major changes in different areas at the same time, it’s easy to become overwhelmed. Change takes effort, energy and work, and we all have limited amounts of time, willpower and resources.
Turn it around for success: Pick only one resolution to focus on at a time. When thinking about the goals on your list, which one ignites your desire the most? Which one, if successful, would have the biggest positive impact on your life? Start there and remember that success increases confidence.
You aren’t motivated to change.If you struggle to stay motivated once the initial excitement fades, perhaps your "why" isn't strong enough. When desire and commitment aren't rock-solid, you could end up giving up at the first sign of struggle.
Turn it around for success: Connect your resolution to deep, heartfelt motivators. Ask yourself: "Why do I really want this? What benefit would achieving this resolution bring me?" If you can't come up with at least several strong motivators for change, rethink whether the resolution is meaningful enough at this time in your life.
Your resolution isn't attached to a plan.
Having a wish list of things you want without a roadmap to get them means you are depending on luck and willpower, which won't get you very far.
Turn it around for success: Create action-oriented goals that state specifically how you will execute them. Break down large goals into small steps that easily fit into your life. Periodically review and revise the goals until you reach your desired outcome. Anticipate the obstacles you might encounter along the way and strategize how you'll overcome them.
Your resolution is vague.
Any abstract goal that is not tied to a specific behavior is nearly impossible to focus on. If it's not specific, it's not possible to measure progress and success.
Turn it around for success: A specific goal will answer what, where, when and how much. A goal such as, "I will lose 10 pounds by July 1 by going to the gym three times each week and brown-bagging healthy lunches to work four days a week" is something you can visualize and track.
Your resolution is unrealistic.
If the gap between where you are and where you want to be feels enormous, you might need to adjust your goals to make them more achievable.
Turn it around for success: Break your resolution down into manageable parts. If you've never run a mile in your life, completing a marathon this year might be too big of a leap. However, running a 5K by spring could be very doable when you create a step-by-step plan to get there.
You don't have any support.
Not only will "going it alone" slow down your progress, but it could also make for a lonely process. Almost everyone who has achieved great success had a mentor, teacher or significant relationship with someone who supported and guided them along the way.
Turn it around for success: Working with others who truly care about your success makes the process more engaging and fun. If your budget allows, consider hiring a coach or trainer who specializes in the area in which you need help. Ask for the help you need, whether it’s from friends, co-workers, family members or others who might influence your success.
You think you can only change at the beginning of the year.
If mid-February rolls around and you have not made progress toward your resolutions, you might start to feel discouraged and defeated. When the momentum doesn’t seem to be picking up, it’s easy to lose motivation and consider giving up.
Turn it around for success: Do quarterly check-ups. Every three months, reread your resolutions, update them and note your progress. If your resolution is now a habit, create a new resolution and start the process again. If you haven't gotten as far as you would have liked, redesign your plan and try a different approach.
Resolving to change is hard work, but it doesn't have to be drudgery. Although reaching the destination is the best reward, enjoying the journey along the way will keep you energized and excited.