If you filled a room with your resolutions of new years past, would you end up with a museum display of unrealized to-dos? You're hardly alone. About 80% of resolutions fail before February's end, according to statistics from U.S. News & World Report.
Why do we have such trouble holding onto our Jan. 1 goals? Truth be told, we rarely vet our resolutions through the filter of self-awareness. In other words, we gravitate toward aspirational objectives that make sense for someone but may not be personally realistic. Think of it this way: You may believe society wants you to lose 20 pounds. However, unless you embrace a lifestyle change, the needle on the scale won't budge.
Consider first whether a particular resolution even resonates with you. Second, evaluate its likelihood. Far too many people set unachievable goals, like training to be ninja warriors when they can barely handle a push-up. Such lofty zero-to-100 achievements look good on paper, yet they don't deliver any value because they're unreachable -- and demotivational in the end.
This hardly means you shouldn't identify long-term, important dreams for the year ahead. Aspirations are good. Still, you'll want to inform your goals for 2020 by reflecting on what matters most to you. The thought of tripling your income may not be realistic enough to get you out of bed an hour early every day, for instance. But increasing your income by a specific amount so you can donate more dollars to your favorite charity may be the kick in the pants you need to bypass the snooze button.
Let self-awareness guide you as you work toward your 2020 objectives, keeping these strategies in mind:
1. Make a personal promise.
Before asking anyone else to help you maintain your resolutions week after week, make a commitment to yourself to stay the course. You're accountable to yourself first and foremost. "When you get crystal clear on your own promises, you are less susceptible to the energy vampire of comparison and other people's opinions," observes Liz Bohannon, CEO and co-founder of Sseko Designs, an ethical fashion brand and entrepreneurial platform.
Bohannon believes in the power of VIPs, or "Very Important Promises." Pick just a few VIPs annually and hold them dear. Don't allow yourself to set them aside; go ahead and schedule weekly goal-keeping time for the full calendar year. The simple act of committing to yourself can serve to boost your conviction -- plus, imagine the confidence you'll feel when you actually accomplish one of your objectives.
2. Know thyself. (H/T: Socrates)
To get real about your resolutions, you need to get real about what makes you tick. Which motivators get you moving and staying on track? Use your answers to bypass self-sabotaging tendencies that cause you to constantly miss your goals, such as trying to work toward big-picture achievements on Fridays when you know you do your best thinking work on Mondays.
As you begin to get a better handle on your needs, create mini-tasks that will assist you in fulfilling your larger objectives. Ensure every mini-task has meaning in some way and isn't just a rote check-off-the-box item. "Find smoothie recipes I will actually make," for example, is a concrete step toward an overall goal of eating healthier in 2020. Over time, you'll naturally begin to understand how to establish new dreams that help you get out of ruts, overcome your shortcomings, and challenge yourself in positive ways.
3. Focus your mind on past -- and future -- successes.
With a solid sense of who you are, you can let go of the sting of past stumbles while also learning from your previous wins. Resetting yourself to focus on the positive is essential to achievement. "From a mentality perspective, I can't stress enough how important it is to approach things with a resilient, success-driven mindset," notes Daniel Pigg, director of business engagement and instructor at Indiana State University. "Letting thoughts of failure creep into your goals and aspirations isn't productive."
When you find yourself lamenting too long about prior mistakes, force yourself to revisit your accomplishments. Over time, you'll naturally begin to look for the silver lining, which will help you see yourself as worthy, competent, and successful rather than unable to get a leg up. Your resolutions will start to fall into place because you'll believe you deserve the achievement -- and that's three-quarters of the battle.
No matter what your resolutions look like this year, conduct a quick re-evaluation to ensure they're created for you and you alone. When you use your personality, ability, talents, and self-worth to reach your goals, you'll see that they don't turn into dusty artifacts in a museum of unrealized ambition. Maybe they'll win you a shiny trophy instead.