Have you ever made a New Year’s Resolution? Have you ever kept a New Year’s Resolution? Chances are, if you have made them, you have also broken them. Why is this? We are sooooo motivated at the time we make the resolution that it seems impossible to fail. But fail we most often do. Here are the top 5 reasons we don’t reach the goals we set when making New Year’s resolutions:
#5 . The resolution is completely result focused.
#4. It is made at the peak of motivation.
#3. It usually involves an extreme change of habit.
#2. We expect ourselves to be perfect in this new behavior.
#1. We want immediate gratification, which sacrifices lasting change.
The best way to make permanent change is to focus instead on:
- What you value.
- Take small realistic process focus steps or habits to bring you toward what you value, or a goal aligned with what you value.
- Make it easier on yourself to keep doing this new habit and more difficult to stick to your prior habits.
- Lasting change takes time and patience.
- Give yourself praise when you follow the process, and forgiveness when you don’t. This is a very important step. Positive reinforcement, praise, makes it easier to continue on the journey toward your value related goal. Negative reinforcement, beating yourself up when you make a mistake, can go a long way toward forcing you to quit before you reach your goal.
For instance, if you want to lose 20 lbs:
- First ask yourself why this is important to you. If you want to live a longer, more enjoyable life and your doctor has told you losing weight would help get you there, then you have your why.
- Now that you know what is important to you about losing weight, slow and steady wins the race. What actions does a healthy eater take? Develop a realistic plan that allows for healthy eating and slow weight loss.
- Then carry out those actions in small steps. Plan healthy meals. Purchase healthy food. Have healthy food prepared and available. Remember, you are focusing on the process of being a healthy person, not how fast you can lose twenty pounds. The end result will be the product of the daily habits in this process.
- Make it easier to eat well than to eat the way you used to eat. Only buy groceries on your meal plan. Be intentional when dining out. Know what you will order ahead of time and only look at that part of the menu. Keep focus on who you want to be.
- Lastly, applaud yourself when you follow the process you have created. Create a reward system. Put a marble in a jar every day that you follow your process. This is a way to see one immediate result while being more patient for the longer term goal. This positive reinforcement is very important to your likelihood of continuing on long enough to establish your new habit of health eating. Just as important-don’t give yourself negative reinforcement. Don’t beat yourself up when you get off track. Be forgiving of yourself, and you will be more likely to get back on track.
Instead of new year’s resolutions, it’s more important that we ask ourselves regularly, “Who do I want to be and what do I want to stand for in this world?” then take action toward that, in small, doable ways that then become habits. Results are the outcome of small habits taken daily.