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New Years Resolutions – 5 Reasons Why They Fail



New Year, New You? New Years Resolutions? Unless you’ve experienced some kind of metamorphic transformation, you probably feel similar to how you felt a week ago. Perhaps a few pounds heavier (or lighter)? Exhausted or well rested? Time for some perspective.

New Years Resolutions are set apart from other resolutions in that they anticipate new beginnings. So what better time to make new plans, new to-do lists, and create a new vision?

New Years Resolutions

5 reasons why New Years Resolutions fail

Why are we eating chocolate within days, back on the smokes within a week, driving past the gym within a month, procrastinating about our business again before Easter? Here are my 5 top reasons:

# 1. We don’t really mean it

Saying it for the sake of it. Examples: “I should really lose weight, I suppose I will go to the gym, I’ll try to eat less chocolate” Mostly, these are statements we make because we would like to be thinner, fitter, slimmer, as do most of us. But the intention is not there unless there are specific goals made, and an action plan put into place. Every success begins with a decision, but the level of success will depend on your conviction to achieve your goal.

# 2. We make them for someone else

We too often set goals to please others –  our “other half”, employer, employee, offspring, parent, sibling or what we perceive society to consider what is best. ANY goal set will not be fully achieved unless it is set for you AND that you feel worthy of achieving the goal AND worthy enough to enjoy the benefits.

A note on negative talk

The unconscious mind often ignores negatives. It also has a tendency to focus on action words (verbs) and nouns. I MUST GIVE LESS CREDIT becomes I MUST GIVE CREDIT becomes GIVE CREDIT. Easy!! I SHOULD SMOKE LESS becomes I SHOULD SMOKE. I SMOKE. Again, easy to do. We can often end up affirming the very thing we wish to stop. How about: I MUST CLEARLY STATE MY CREDIT TERMS becomes STATE CREDIT TERMS affirms the action of being more assertive in providing credit. I WILL BREATHE EASILY AND HEALTHILY becomes simply BREATHE or HEALTH – both positive aspirations by any standards.

# 3. New Years Resolutions are not specific enough

‘I need to make more sales.’ ‘I should give up smoking.’ I have to try and lose weight.’ Negative words. Non-responsible statements. They will not encourage success. How about these instead?

  • Starting tomorrow, I will make 20 more sales calls every day, and set up a CRM system to track and follow up – a little more specific?
  • On Sunday, I will read Allen Carr’s book, on Monday I will stop smoking and start on the nicotine patches for exactly 3 weeks, and then go cold turkey with the smokes. A bit more specific than just saying “I should give up”?
  • On Tuesday evening, I will call into the local gym and make an appointment with the personal trainer. I will make a plan with him to lose 6 kilos by June 7th, the day before my summer vacation. A little more specific than procrastinating about how you will lose that weight?Angus & Phil New Years Resolutions

Put a date on it. Put a number on it. Put a limit on it. Put it on paper. Name it, shame it and state your contingency plan.

# 4. The resolution is not ongoing

Any resolution needs thought, process and outcome. As well as that, no plan should be a “one-off!” Planning should always be ongoing, leading to the next thing, ultimately leading to our life-long goals and aspirations. By practicing planning throughout the year, new year plans will lose their “shock” value, and be more sustaining – using the tips above of course!

# 5. Change means losing something

Most people associate change with giving up or losing something. Try this exercise – ask your colleague / partner to change one thing about themselves as you avert your eyes. I am not a gambling woman, but I bet you they have just removed something from their clothes or body. They will more likely remove an item, than add an item. With a CHANGE = LOSING mindset, we brand ourselves losers before we even begin.

We need to perceive a resolution as a new positive habit, reformed habit, or rebuilt habit. And always positive. Instead of something like “I must give up cigarettes – I’m fed up with no ME time – I need to lose weight” try answering these simple questions / suggestions:

  • By saying no to a cigarette now, what am I saying yes to?
  • By saying no to time-wasters, what am I saying yes to?
  • Broccoli might get stuck on your teeth, but french fries will get stuck on your a$$ ;-)

The Procedures Manual

When flying an aeroplane, and something goes wrong, rather than having to take time to think out the situation, the pilot diagnoses the issue and looks up the solution in the procedures manual. The problem has already been predicted, and a solution recorded. When making up and keeping to your new years resolutions for 2013, take a few minutes to write down 2 or 3 things you will do if you “fall off the wagon”. This is your procedures manual – it will tell you exactly WHAT you need to do if you hit a brick wall, fail, or slow down.

Embrace your resolutions, AND write them down, plan them and make them long term and long standing! Have you a great tip you can share with us below?

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Images:  ”New Year resolution marked in a diary for January 1 / Shutterstock.com



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The Author:

Elaine Rogers is a Business Training & Development Specialist. She provides training and coaching in the areas of IT Skills, Business Skills, and Soft Skills. Elaine has just launched a new online training store at http://www.thesmarttrain.com that provides videos and workshops in the areas of IT, Business and Soft Skills. http://www.thesmarttrain.com

Add Your Comment

  • http://www.thesmarttrain.com/ Elaine Rogers

    Thank you Nishadha,
    I am pleased you found cause to re-adjust your resolutions. I have cheated a little and masked resolutions as goals. Sometimes they are just things we WISH we did more of but don’t actually plan to do something about other than a conscious thought (BE more positive, BE more charitable etc).
    And I wanted to also challenge those who make them, but do not take the next step and create some kind of plan.
    Well done on your adjustments :)

  • http://about.me/Lindeskog lyceum1776

    Elaine: Great post! Point 2 (We make them for someone else) is very important. The resolutions should be for you and your life. Here is my post from 2007: http://egoist.blogspot.se/2007/12/writing-down-new-resolving-thoughts.html

  • http://twitter.com/bengii bengii

    Good points – I especially like the ‘procedures manual’ as a memo-to-self on how to recover

  • http://twitter.com/writerlyderv Derbhile Graham

    You talk so much sense. The idea about creating a contingency plan for hwen you fall off the wagon adds extra weight to the posts – not many posts addressing htis topic make provision for that.

  • http://twitter.com/xcelbusiness Helen Cousins

    Last year I kept mine – no parking violations! I just made sure that every time I parked, I paid. Park, pay, lock. Very specific – so I second your advice.
    I think some people make plans that are just too grand and sweeping, then they set themselves up to fail as these resolutions are not realistic.
    Great article and very timely Elaine :)
    ~ Helen

  • http://neilsisson.com/ Neil Sisson

    Great post Elaine. As a rule I’ve always said that New Years Resolutions were a complete waste of time, that if you wanted to change your life you shouldn’t wait until Jan 1st. BUT this year as it happens there was a bunch of stuff I wasn’t happy about in Dec and there was just too much going on in the rush around Christmas. So I made a bunch of New years ressies and so far I’ve stuck to them all.

    I think what you’ve said about resolutions being measurable and specific (very much like goals) is spot on. Thanks!

  • http://www.thesmarttrain.com/ Elaine Rogers

    Hi Martin,
    Thanks for sharing your post – it sure helps to document things, as we are such a forgetful race, and easily forget wins, successes and achievements we have made throughout the year – or even that we WERE in fact more charitable, more active or less negative.

    How do we know we have been successful? Only by documenting :)
    Well done!

  • http://www.thesmarttrain.com/ Elaine Rogers

    Recovery is essential. Otherwise we assume no failure along the way. A recovery system allows us to learn from mistakes, and move forward :)
    Thanks Ben, great to hear your thoughts.

  • http://www.thesmarttrain.com/ Elaine Rogers

    Thanks Derbhile.
    I am always nervous when writing professionals read my posts :-/ Contingency, Plan B, and follow up are too often “missed” as we become so focused on the goal, and the end game.
    The journey is equally if not more important, and how we spend our time during that journey dictates our level of success, and sense of achievement :)

  • http://www.thesmarttrain.com/ Elaine Rogers

    Now that’s a resolution well made and adhered to Helen!
    You demonstrate the need for a goal and process of how to achieve that with your 3 point plan – easy and doable.
    Perhaps grandeur allows us sweep our way to unrealistic goals, and ultimately the fast slide to the bottom…

  • http://www.thesmarttrain.com/ Elaine Rogers

    Most welcome Neil, and thank you also.
    I read “stuff” as “staff” and was curious what resolutions you were making around that issue – oops!
    SO yes, you have recognized the challenges, addressed them and decided consciously to do something about them. Let’s hope the “New Year” doesn’t dampen your success. But it won’t if your results are planned to be long-term.
    Well done!

  • http://leadsandappointments.com/ Anika Davis

    I agree! We always make new year resolutions but we don’t really meant it. I think it is because, we don’t motivate ourselves to do those things that’s why we failed. Take more time up front to pick something worth doing and something simple and easy enough that you will succeed. Strive for your goals and just be happy the way you are. Thanks for sharing:)