80 percent of the New Year's resolutions often reappeared just as quickly.
Many of us have made new resolutions and new goals. For example, exercising more, taking a new path, getting a new job, writing a book, prioritizing more me-time. Have you also made resolutions for yourself?
Whether or not you did, read on, as it applies not just to New Year's resolutions, but to all efforts to set goals and achieve them.
Why fail with our goals or good intentions?
If we have such good and strong intentions, why do we fail in the first place?
Insight is not enough
Most new resolutions and goals are based on insights, emotions, and short-term motivation, and while these are great to start with, they aren't enough to keep us committed to our resolutions any longer.
We must then realize that when we talk about a new goal or a New Year's resolution, we are talking about an important and long-lasting change in our behavior. Our behavior is based on habits formed over the years. That means we do things on autopilot.
Research shows that changing a longstanding habit is quite difficult and what is most needed is the formation of a new more desirable habit. Once our brain has that new alternative, which has been applied over time, it will eventually trust and automate the desired new behavior.
This process takes time, effort and above all, discipline. The good news is that discipline can be trained. By doing short mindfulness exercises throughout the day, you teach your brain to focus.
So the most important message to remember if you want to persevere and stick to your new goal: it takes 20 percent insight to get started and 80 percent mental strength to accomplish it. There it is pareto principle again.
Be more specific
Saying things like “I want to lose weight” or “I want to get fitter” sounds nice, but we're not sure what we mean by that because it's worded too generically. To really stick with a new goal, we need to know exactly what it means to us. You need to make your New Year's resolution or goal specific.
If you want to be fitter, determine what it means to you, what the desired result is, what kind of exercises you will do, when and how often, and beyond.
you have no plan
So now that we have a specific goal that is within our control and reach, we need a plan. A concrete plan of approach on how we will actually achieve this. Remember the goal “I want to run a marathon in July 2022.” Even if you're already fit enough to do that, you still need an exercise plan to reach the goal. How many days a week do you run, how many miles a week, when do you take the necessary rest, how am I going to eat, etc.
The second part of the plan that people often forget is the progress check. You have to set up a system for yourself (outside your head) where you will record the progress you are making towards your goal. First of all, it shows where you stand, but secondly and more importantly, it can give you confidence once you see that you are sticking to your plan.
The target is beyond your control
For our goals to work for us, they must be within our reach. To do that, we must first be specific and second, decide whether they are within our reach. That doesn't mean we can't challenge ourselves, but we have to be realistic or we will quickly feel overwhelmed and defeated and eventually stop because of it.
That also means that we can only set the goals for ourselves and not for others. For example, if your New Year's resolution is to have a better relationship with your partner, you can only set goals for your own actions and behavior.
Be clear about your why
While it is already crucial to know the what (the resolution or goal) and the how (the plan); having a clear why and therefore reason to motivate you is what makes it exciting and what makes it easier for you to persevere when the going gets tough.
If you want to lose weight, is it obvious why you want to do it? Do you want to become healthier so that you can enjoy life with your family longer? If you want a new job, do you know the reason behind it? For example, do you want to contribute to a better world, so that you feel more purposeful and happier?
Whatever your New Year's resolution, dig deep into the true meaning behind it.
You have no people to hold you accountable
This point is actually one of the most important. Several studies show that once you have a specific accountability buddy or group with whom you agree to work on your goal, your chances of successful goal completion skyrocket!
So if you're considering running, run with a buddy or tell a loved one your specific goals. If you're considering going on a diet, do it with your partner or friend.
You give up at the first sign of failure
We all fail to achieve our goals from time to time. The most important thing you can do is recognize that failure is not a disaster, but a lesson that will push you to keep going and give you the strength to reconnect with your New Year's resolution. It's not about how many healthy meals or exercise classes you skipped, but how quickly you get back on your feet to do it again.
Make 2022 the year in which you realize your intentions!
With these insights, you'll know what to do to stick to your future goals and New Year's resolutions. Whatever you want to do or change, make 2022 your year!