You may have set yourself a goal for the year, but just about anyone who has set a New Year’s resolution at one point or another has also failed to keep it. The commitment to go to the gym every week or cut out sugar usually only ends up lasting a fraction of the year. You’d think with so many made more would be kept for the full year. So, why exactly do New Year’s resolutions fail so frequently?
Rules Are Hard to Follow
To keep to a promise like going to the gym or eating less junk requires serious self-discipline and while many people have the initial motivation, when it fades they typically regress into old habits. Of course, there are people who have the discipline to keep it up, but this is often the exception. Ultimately, when we’re told exactly what to do – by ourselves or anyone else – we likely won’t want to do it. The feeling of being restricted only fuels the desire to do what you aren’t supposed to.
Additionally, when we slip up we very often end up giving up entirely. If we miss one day at the gym we feel like missing two is no worse, we then begin to feel as though we’ve already failed so there’s no point getting back to it and persevering. A better response would be to get straight back into the new habit, even if you slip up once or twice. Nobodies perfect, but we often put pressure on ourselves to be just that and end up not bothering when we’re not.
Resolutions Are Too Specific
Something of an extension of struggling to follow rules is the specify of the New Year’s resolutions people set themselves. By always focusing on avoiding something it becomes the thing we think about most, making it even harder to avoid. This ties in with the need for a level of self-discipline most people struggle to find. If something is constantly on your mind it requires a huge amount of willpower to not give in to it at any point.
However, there could be a way to make resolutions a little less strict and still succeed. By making the resolution less specific it gives you more leeway to make a mistake and get back on track. For example, rather than promising to go to the gym every week, you could promise to be more active. This could mean using stairs instead of lifts, walking instead of using a car, and even going to the dreaded gym. But by broadening your options you can still contribute to your goal when you’re not perfectly on track.
Resolutions Aren’t Always Relevant
Another reason many New Year’s resolutions so often end in failure is that they are often hold no relevance to a person’s current lifestyle. The aim of a resolution is to improve yourself as a person, but many resolutions simply pick something that’s sounds like a good thing. Promising to eat less chocolate won’t suddenly make you a person better, so there are no meaningful results to provide continued motivation and discipline.
Instead, New Year’s resolutions should be in some way related to something that you truly want to improve. This can be related to diet, fitness, behaviour, or anything else. The most important thing is to apply it to an area that is relevant to you and your life. When you begin to see direct results of the resolution, you’ll be more inclined to continue with the changes you’ve made because they truly make a positive difference.