As we approach the heels of a new year, the electrifying buzz of resolutions are in the air. The hashtags are gaining steam and people are ready to restart the clock at midnight on New Year's day with the hope of prosperity, change and happiness in the new year.
However, we have all heard various statistics of the length of time before the buzz of a resolution fades. Whether it is a day, a week or a month; the enthusiasm of New Year's resolutions fade quickly. Why do people give up so fast?
The larger narrative is why are resolutions effective for only 10% of people who manage to commit to to their goals? I believe it centers around personal goals and habit loops. We are in an age of instant gratification, which creates short term fulfillment for impatient leaders.
Let's discuss 5 reasons why New Year's resolutions fail:
1. You are trying to achieve too many goals in a short time
The issue with instant and short term gratification is the ability to create huge goals, which are close to impossible to achieve, without a considerable measure of time. Whether it is to begin living a healthier life, or starting your first company, etc., a great strategy, focus and time play a major role in your success. I learned a valuable lesson in 2010 when I set out on a quest to expand my company and was greeted with my first rejection in the first quarter. The goal was too ambitious to achieve a successful outcome within such a short time-frame.
It takes time to create a new life change and many underestimate the amount of consistent effort it takes to change. It may not happen in the first 30 days, but it will happen once you become flexible with time.
2. You are focused on perfection
Perfection is a habit loop of focusing on the imperfections, while delaying implementation. Over the years, I have personally witnessed great leaders defer their dreams indefinitely due to perfection. I know of numerous authors who will not publish their first book because the cover is not right, and business owners who have not had the ability to scale due to waiting to find the right office space and website in order to launch. Resolutions often fail when you are focused on perfection, rather than rewarding yourself for consistent progress.
3. You may be struggling with impostor syndrome
We also label it as comparison syndrome. These are goals that are the result of your fascination with the possessions and successes of others. Have you ever noticed that you changed your goals because of someone you compare yourself to? One distinct, and very dated, personal memory was when my closest friend came to school with a Ford Probe, I became obsessed with the car. I factored her happiness with her new car with changing my mind about my own desires and goals. Essentially, I only wanted the Probe because I did not achieve my goal.
Impostor syndrome will force you to set goals that are not authentic for you. The more you compare yourself to others, you are more likely to change your goals.
4. You are feeding your distractions
The death of many resolutions are the unlimited amount of distractions. Attending dead end networking events, consumed by social media during peak hours of the day, taking repetitive breaks to detox your mind, etc. They are all distractions that will deter you from achieving your goals. I operate a "distraction free zone" until 7 P.M. each day, which limits the amount of unsolicited interactions daily. As a result, I accomplish most of my goals by the third quarter of the year.
Once you limit the amount of unproductive distractions, you will gain a renewed sense of focus to commit to your resolutions.
5. You have a lack of patience
The desire for instant gratification has changed our ability to wait for change. A resolution for a new year has now become the magic formula for instant success. Success takes time. Starting a resolution in a new year will require you to be patient while celebrating achievement milestones. A lack of patience will cause you to defer your dream, most often, prematurely.
There is a simple solution - Create goal-specific milestones and celebrate each accomplishment during the journey. It provides a focused perspective on goal setting and allows you to pivot throughout the year, rather than give up. A great example noted by Psychology Today is "If your goal is to lose weight, pledge to buy yourself a new piece of clothing when you hit the 10-pound mark." Once you celebrate each milestone, create a road-map for the next level of your goals so you will be committed to the process of actualizing your plan.