It's that time of year. The time when all of your peers, friends, and family members set lofty goals that will never be accomplished, lying to themselves and others about how much they want to change.
The brutal truth is that most of you will fail to sustain the changes you want to see in your life. It won't be because your intentions are poor, or because your effort isn't present, it's simply because change is difficult and you don't recognize that you're setting yourself up for failure.
But don't worry, this year can be different. If you're willing to make some minor adjustments to your New Years Resolutions, you too can sustain the type of changes you want to see and work towards becoming your best possible self in 2017.
Here are seven reasons your resolutions fail--and what to do instead:
1. You're trying to make too many changes at one time.
Making a list of changes is great--trying to turn that entire list into reality is unrealistic. Stop overloading yourself with life-altering interventions each January and getting mad at yourself for failing in February.
Instead: Prioritize what's most important and do those first.
Take your list and decide the one or two areas that are the most important. Introduce the areas of significance first, and sustain that change prior to adding additional tasks. You're not a robot--so be compassionate as you encounter the ups and downs of self-development.
2. Your resolutions are too drastic.
You may be brainwashed into thinking that you need a six-pack, but that's not a realistic goal for most body types. You think that you have to go from 0-100 on the change factor to have a significant impact on your life and that's just inaccurate.
Instead: Pick small, realistic changes.
Small changes compound over time. Instead of trying to make huge changes, start by setting smaller goals.
For example, instead of trying to go from never entering a gym to going each day, try to attend a class once or twice per week. Practice being patient with yourself--there's no magical pill for self-growth.
3. You wait until the new year to implement changes.
Ideas are nice--execution is priceless. Waiting for an arbitrary date to start something new and helpful is setting yourself up for failure.
Instead: Implement change immediately.
If your intuition is telling you to make a change in your life--don't wait for your mind to formulate a rebuttal. Our intellect is often more advance than our emotional intelligence to such an extent we can rationalize not-doing something helpful for ourselves.
Don't wait for a future that may never appear--start creating positive changes now.
4. You lack a positive reward system.
Remember how to potty train your dog? Reward it for good behavior.
Instead: Create incentives and rewards for making positive changes.
Use the science of positive reinforcement to improve your motivation to sustain positive changes. No, you're not a dog, but to be honest, you'd be surprised how much of a difference a positive stimulus makes in changing behavior.
5. You lack social support for your new goals.
Environment is everything. When you don't have a support system in place, creating change is much more difficult to sustain.
Instead: Formulate a team and connect to like-minded individuals.
Systemic change is only possible through collective engagement. Start reaching out to others who can support rather than limit your resolutions.
6. You want certain aspects of your lifestyle to change, but not others.
Everything is connected. When you change one aspect of your life, all other components are impacted.
Instead: Plan on changing your entire lifestyle.
Set yourself up for success by acknowledging that some aspects of your life will get left behind when you're trying to change other areas. After all, you can't expect to get a Calvin Klein abs and drink beer each day.
7. You think relapsing to old behaviors means that you failed.
Your all or nothing mentality is holding you back. When you're trying to do something new and you fall back on old patterns, that doesn't mean you failed, it means you're learning.
Instead: Recognize that relapse is a normal part of improvement.
As you're implementing new changes in 2017, know that failure is part of the process. Don't demonize yourself for messing up--whether that slip up lasts a moment or a week--you can always get back on track.
Believe in yourself, support each other, and let this be the year you create lasting changes.