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Home / Blog / Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail (And How You Can Make Yours Succeed)
Why Most New Year’s Resolutions Fail (And How You Can Make Yours Succeed)
You’ve done it before.
And so have millions of Americans.
You’ve made a firm commitment to change.
The first couple weeks go well.
Then you start to get tired of the change.
It becomes hard work.
And a month after you’ve made your new resolution, you find yourself back to your old habits.
When the New Year begins, this most often gets applied to losing weight. You see all kinds of people in the gym at the beginning of January.
But by the time February rolls around, the gym’s back to its old numbers.
So what gives? Why does this happen?
And how do you make a New Year’s resolution, and follow through on it to become the healthier, happier person you envision?
First, Why Does This Happen?
Timothy Pychyl, a psychology professor at Carleton University in Canada, says people make resolutions to motivate themselves. But truly, they aren’t yet ready to change.
Dr. Avya Sharma of the Canadian Obesity Network says people set unrealistic goals and expectations.
Part of the unrealistic expectation is that many people believe their entire life will change when they lose weight. When they only experience the weight loss and improved self-esteem, they get discouraged, adds Psychology Today.
How Do You Make Lasting Change?
Brain scientists Antonio Damasio and Joseph LeDoux found, through MRIs, that habitual behavior becomes just that by making new choices. If you try to just “not do” the behavior, you actually end up strengthening the thinking that leads you to acting that way.
A Simple Process for Changing Your Behavior Permanently
Most Americans make goals around health, exercise, weight loss, debt reduction, or quitting smoking. Regardless of the resolution you make, here’s what to do to make it reality:
Focus on just a single resolution.
Make it specific. Don’t aim to “lose weight this year.” Set your goal to “lose 10 pounds in 90 days.”
Make your new change your lifestyle, and not a time-limited solution.
Take one step each day that will get you closer to your goal.
Celebrate every success along the way. Don’t wait until you’ve lost 10 pounds. If you lose 5, make a big deal out of it.
If you slip back a little, which is likely at some point, don’t worry about it. Simply acknowledge it happened, identify how it happened, and consider what you can do next time to make sure you do something different.
Discuss your goal and progress openly with someone else. This could be a spouse, accountability partner, or online group centered around this interest.
Change is hard. But if you follow this process, you give yourself the best chance of making your goal reality.