Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Two Reasons We Fail with New Year Resolutions

Pen and paper
It’s time for New Year resolutions!  Do you plan to make some resolutions for the New Year?  Here are the top ten resolutions most people make:

1.  Spend more time with family and friends
2.  Exercise regularly
3.  Lose weight
4.  Quit smoking
5.  Quit drinking
6.  Get out of debt
7.  Go back to school
8.  Learn something new
9.  Grow more spiritually
10. Get organized

Unfortunately, four out of five people break their resolutions each year and 33% don't even make it past January. 

We choose to make resolutions because we have a desire to change something – either about ourselves specifically or our lives generally. 
We all want good things in our life, but if we don’t see immediate progress toward a goal, or if we fall back into an old habit, we give up.

So why do we fail at our resolutions?

1.  It’s a broad and boring “to-do list”

More often than not, we get out the paper and pen and start writing a list of resolutions that basically say: "I need to do this, I have to do that." Then what happens?  We lose the list or throw it out when we assume we've failed. We don't want to be reminded of our good intentions.  Besides, who wants to complete another boring checklist? 

We also don’t achieve success on our resolutions because we have created goals that are far too deep and wide with no specific targets (like strategy and tactics for you business majors) in mind. 

Instead, you can simply create a list of things you want to do, instead of those that you should do or need to do. Saying "I will spend more time on myself" sounds great, but because it’s broad and general, figuring out how to complete it will be a chore. Choose something more definitive as: “I will plan to attend the writer’s retreat in August.”  This is more specific, attainable and in the end, something that still allows you to spend more time on yourself.  The best use of a to-do list in this case (if you can’t help yourself) will be to make a list of things you need to get ready for that retreat.  

So are your resolutions a “need to do” list, or the “I really want to do this” list?

2.  There’s not enough room for success 


Another reason for not succeeding with our resolutions is because of clutter. Clutter in our surroundings can make it easy for us to forfeit our New Year’s resolve.     

Getting organized is on the top of the list for many of us. Do you want to purge your closets?  Learn how to better file household papers?  Keep the kitchen counter free of clutter?  Or just find a system to help you find that illusive roll of toilet paper when you need it most?  

While becoming more clutter-free is a good goal, it's not clutter on the kitchen counter that I’m talking about here. 

It's "mind clutter."  

What do I mean by mind clutter?  I’m talking about the life stuff taking up space and preventing us from attaining our goals. This clutter can be anything from a current financial crunch, endless home repairs, a temporary health issue, to the daily pressures of raising kids and doing homeschool.  While these are things we do have to manage, it is the stress, anxiety, or low self-confidence coming from it that can cause us to make resolutions so unexciting and so uninspiring that our mind clutter becomes justification for not making worthwhile goals and getting positive results. 

To make space for success, take small steps toward your goals by choosing things you like to do and inspire you.  Small steps will help you feel as though you are making progress because you see immediate results. Also, focus on something positive, take a few chances and even dare yourself to try something new.

A small step around mind clutter for me is the goal to read 30 minutes a day.  This will work for me because I love to read. If I don’t get that time, I won’t feel defeated because I can easily try again the next day. With this approach, I still gain progress and I haven't failed.   

Are you making goals that are enjoyable and encouraging?

Now that you know the two things that will help you become more successful with your New Year resolutions, go get a clean piece of paper and create a new list of things you can’t wait to finish.  Make goals that are more specific by deciding to do things you will want to do, and will keep you from feeling defeated with big, oversized “have to’s.”  Work around daily pressures by choosing simple, enjoyable activities you like to do and will also encourage you to keep making progress.  And most importantly, make sure that you are having fun!


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