If you're like an estimated 50 percent of the U.S. population, then you probably resolved to change something about your life after the clock struck midnight on January 1. And if you're also like the vast majority of those resolution makers, then you've already stopped making progress toward that goal.
Research suggests many New Year's resolutions don't make it past the second week of February, and only a measly 9.2 percent of people who make resolutions actually achieve their goals by the time the next new year rolls around. In fact, the rate of failure for resolutions is so high that it's become somewhat of a joke in the fitness world (and probably the worlds of debt collectors and credit card companies, too). Resolutions fail so often that many experts now suggest alternatives to traditional resolution making .
So if you've fallen off the wagon, know that you're in good company. But don't just accept quitting on your goals for the rest of the year. Instead, take the time to identify why you slipped up so you can recreate your resolutions in a way that's more likely to work. Here are four possible explanations to get you started.
If your friend came to you on New Year's Day and told you that over the next 12 months they were planning to lose half their body weight, earn a seven-figure income in a field in which they have no experience, and save enough to buy a private island even though they're currently $20,000 in credit card debt, you'd probably think they were being a tad unrealistic.
Yet many of us delude ourselves in this way when it comes to making our own resolutions. Then, when we inevitably don't live up to those standards, we throw up our hands and declare ourselves failures.
In reality, the only failure here is that of failing to set a realistic goal that can be achieved within your current lifestyle constraints and the designated time frame.
"Get healthy." "Better manage my money." "Stress less." These are all common New Year's resolutions, and they're also commonly broken resolutions. That's likely because these goals all share the same Achilles heel: They're vague.
Vague goals make it difficult to identify a specific desired outcome--and that makes it near impossible to craft a detailed, actionable game plan for achieving said outcome. Without that plan, your chances of taking meaningful steps toward your goal are slim to none.
Even the best-laid plans may not be achievable if your life isn't set up in a way that allows you to pursue them. For example, if you fail to incorporate those plans into your schedule, allow your life to be overrun with distractions, and so on, then the odds will not be in your favor.
In addition to having a clear-cut plan for achieving your goals, you also need to set up your lifestyle so you're more likely to succeed. That means managing your time in a way that allows you to prioritize your action steps, removing as many distractions from your life as possible, allotting budgetary resources to your goals, breaking ties with people who discourage your efforts to change, and cultivating a strong support system of people who want you to succeed and will help hold you accountable to your goals. These are the conditions that pave the way for success.
Not being ready
If part of you desires a change but a larger part of you wants everything to stay the same, the larger part is likely to win out. In fact, this may be the single reason why so many of us fail to make lasting change each New Year: because deep down, we don't really want to.
If that's the case, then before you make the change in question you first have to address whatever is holding you back. This will allow you to connect with a deeper sense of purpose, which can provide you with greater motivation when the going inevitably gets tough.
Once you've identified why you've given up on your resolution, the next step is to figure out how you can modify that resolution to increase your chances for success. Follow this framework for setting goals that actually stick .