Most people are very familiar with the phrase “New Year’s Resolution.” And for good reason.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, approximately 50% of the population makes resolutions each New Year. At the stroke of midnight on January 1st, people all over the world are prepared to make the new year a better, more memorable one.
However, for most people, there’s nothing to celebrate at the end of the road come December. Research conducted by the University of Scranton suggests that just 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. With that statistic in mind, it’s best to have preventative measures in place as you set your own goals for 2018. When you understand why people fail, you can make better decisions about how you can increase your chances of success. Here are a few reasons why an estimated 92% of New Year’s resolutions fail:
The debt debacle
A 2016 study conducted by inPersonality and Social Psychology Bulletin found that 20% of New Year’s’ resolutions revolved around getting out of debt. However, part of the reason for major failures in this area is that people try to do everything on their on. For many people, getting out of debt is most effective when it involves working with a lawyer or financial advisor who can provide sound advice about estates and credit. According to Dan Steiner, who runs a business that handles an SEO for law firms, seeking professional help is often the missing ingredient of resolution recipes.
“Too often, people don’t seek help because they believe they can handle major issues like debt and bankruptcy on their own,” says Steiner. “From one end of the spectrum to the next, hurdles seem to be everywhere: lawyers have difficulty marketing their firms to the right people, and the general public has trouble finding the right help.”
Research and patience are key here. Of course, there are some aspects of financial regrouping that you can DIY, but for a major debt overhaul, you’ll likely find that hiring assistance proves to be a worthwhile investment. It eliminates the guesswork, manual hours, and stress of having to take care of everything on your own.
The mental struggle
A major part of the reason people fail to reach their resolutions is that they submit themselves to mental blocks. Another study, published in the Journal of Nature and Science, explored why some goals– particularly those that are health-related– are so difficult to achieve. It found that the internal battle between doing what’s best and doing what’s right, both conscious and subconscious, hinders us from achieving desirable results.
Furthermore, if there’s no immediate reward, you’re more likely to slip into old habits. For example, it’s much easier to purchase an expensive coat that you like to achieve instant gratification than to walk away and put it towards your credit card debt with a long-term goal of improving your credit score. As you work through these goals, it’s important to be aware of the “instant gratification” conundrum that could be the death of your resolutions.
Setting unrealistic goals
Having unrealistic, or too many goals can hinder your chances of success. The problem with this is that you can’t always perceive what’s acceptable and what’s unrealistic.
One way to ensure that you keep realistic goals is to write out a schedule for the entire year. For example, if you plan to lose 20 pounds this year, break down your weight loss program into bite-sized, trackable chunks.
If you plan on doubling your business revenues, create a master plan to achieve it, and hold yourself accountable to those goals as indicated by your schedule. Simply saying “I’m going to double business revenues this year” and having a plan that merely includes “working hard” won’t be good enough here.
If your New Year’s resolution is to start your own business, write out a weekly and/or monthly plan to help you stay on schedule. Check off items on your list as you achieve them, and take note of things that could stall your progress. Always be moving forward.
Sprinting towards the finish line
In Track & Field terms, a New Year’s Resolution is a long-distance race– not a sprint. This means that the old adage, “slow and steady wins the race,” is in full force when it comes to year-long goals. Another major reason people fail is that, in addition to setting unrealistic long-term goals, they set unrealistic milestones and rush towards the finish line. It’s important to start small with your goals and work your way.
Resolutions are not static; they are malleable and can grow bigger with time. If your goal is to lose 20 pounds for the year, but you’ve never exercised before, why jump into a regimen that involves the same tasks for the first month as the last? Start small. In this case, try removing small things from your diet like sugar and drinking more water. Perhaps you’ll commit to a gym workout once per week during the first three months, and change it two times per week thereafter. Intensify your workout plan as you pick up momentum and become adjusted to your new lifestyle.
Same goes for things like budgeting and eliminating debt. Take baby steps to put yourself in a comfortable position. Cut smaller spending habits and when you successfully achieve those small cuts, allow yourself bigger ones.