It’s become an annual ritual. You declare that next year you’re going to save money, get in shape, travel more often, read more books, or get better at time management. Unfortunately, these resolutions don’t stick. In fact, research has found that 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
That’s not to discourage you from becoming a better mom, woman, or professional. It’s actually the opposite. I want you to succeed in achieving your goals for the new year. But, that’s not going to be through New Year’s resolutions.
To help make sure that you follow through on the goals that you’ve set for the new year, let’s take a quick look at why New Year’s Resolutions don’t work and what you should do instead.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
Have you written down your list of resolutions for the new year? Go ahead and look at it. Is it actually a lengthy list of broad items like spending more time with my family or eating healthier foods?
This is actually quite common when it comes to New Year’s resolutions. We set too many expectations for the upcoming year. As a result, we attempt to do everything at once — which explains the lengthy list of resolutions that you’ll never be able to achieve.
New Year’s resolutions also fail because;
- They’re too big and not realistic. Yes. By all means focus on your health in the new year. But, are you able to hit the gym for 2 hours daily or lose 30 pounds in 30 days?
- Your goals aren’t clearly defined. Most resolutions are vague and not specific, like “I want to travel more.” Without defining what you want to achieve, you won’t be able to create a plan on how you’re going to get there.
- You don’t know your “why.” What’s the purpose of your resolution? For example, why do you want to save more money? Is it because this is what you’re told to do? Or, is it because you need to purchase a new vehicle that accommodates your growing family.
- You’re not in the right mindset. You need to be mentally prepared for the hard work and challenges that come with New Year’s resolutions. If you’re not in the right mindset, you won’t succeed. For example, if you want to chase a promotion this year, but you’re home life is chaotic, it’s going to be difficult to focus and be inspired on your career.
- You feel discouraged and overwhelmed. It’s tough to stick to a resolution when you don’t see immediate results. Because the goal is too ambitious and you’re too impatient, you abandon the resolution. And, because we’re creature of habit who resist change, following through with a resolution can be too overwhelming for us.
- You’ve phrased it negatively. A lot of resolutions are based around what we shouldn’t do, like “I’m not going to eat cookies anymore.” Besides not being specific, you’re also not replacing the bad habit with a habit.
- You get constantly distracted. As a working mom, we’re constantly getting distracted. Whether if it’s putting out a fire at work or taking care of a sick child, we often allow these distractions to get in the way of own wants and needs.
Scrap Resolutions And Do This Instead
Instead of focusing on the same resolutions and failing, here’s some techniques you can use throughout the new year to improve yourself.
- Replace resolutions with goals. Most resolutions involve changing existing habits or creating new habits. That can be challenging or daunting because habits are established responses, like going to Starbucks and grabbing your latte and breakfast every morning on the way to work. To successfully change a habit, replace unattainable resolutions with S.M.A.R.T. goals. These are small changes that are specific, can be measured, and easily achieved in a specific period of time.
- Limit your goals. Speaking of goals, don’t overwhelm yourself with trying to accomplish too many goals. Limit yourself to no more than five priorities that you want to achieve in the new year.
- Don’t focus on the entire year. We also have a tendency to create resolutions for the entire year. The best way to make sure that healthy habits stick is by focusing on one small change that you can accomplish in a short period of time, like giving up sweets or smoking for the next month. Remember, it takes 21 and 66 days to form a new habit. After that, it becomes automatic.
- Highlight what you do well. Stop letting the negative self-talk change you are. You are a beautiful and strong women! Celebrate you are and emphasize on what you excel at, as opposed to trying to reinvent yourself.
- Invent challenges. As Joseph J. Luciani, Ph.D. writes, “Invent various challenges throughout the day to strengthen your ability to believe and to do. Don’t allow yourself to procrastinate; make yourself finish your paperwork before turning on the TV; decide not to spend too much at the mall. These are all trust-muscle builders, and you should view them as you would an actual muscle. Just as you would do repetitions at the gym to develop a muscle, so too must you get your reps in each day. Like a muscle, the more you workout, the more your capacity for personal success will grow.”
- Find a friend. Don’t go it alone! Use the buddy system so that you can motivate each other and hold each other accountable. It’s also more fun to do things with others! For example, start going to the gym three times a week with a friend. Besides being able to spend time with your friend, you can push each other to go when one of you aren’t feeling it.
- Establish a word of the year. Think of one word that sums up how you really want to feel in the new year and then apply it to everything that you do. For instance, you could chose the word “helpful” and keep that in mind at work by helping a colleague or offering to volunteer in your community.
- Tap into the power of now. We often get more immediate satisfactions from bad habits, like eating junk food, smoking, or sleeping-in. We then tell ourselves that changing these habits won’t feel as good. Instead, try to shift your motivation. Don’t look at exercise as a painful chore that will help you eventually achieve some abstract goal. Instead, think about how much fun you have working out with a friend or how energetic you feel afterwards.
- Plan for obstacles. Nothing ever goes as planned. That’s why you should always have a Plan B prepared so that you can still work towards your goals when obstacles get in the way. Maybe you can’t hit the gym today because the kids are off from school. Instead, go for a walk or play a game with them. It may not be the gym, but it’s better then nothing! And, you get to spend quality time with your kids.
- Enjoy the journey! Being challenged and growing is more enjoyable then achieving the goal itself. In other words, have fun and enjoy the ride!