At the end of every twelve months, people tend to set goals for the new year, resolutions, something to look forward to. They open their new planners and scribble away goals that might never see the light of day. We start the year with a page-long list of personal goals and intentions and once we turn that page, we leave them behind.
Why is it so hard to keep new year’s resolutions?
I believe that for most of us, the hard part of achieving our NY resolutions is the pressure we put on ourselves from the very beginning. The year has just started and we set out too high of expectations that we will barely succeed. I can personally say that every year I set out to be on my best behaviour. I purposely intend to drink lots of smoothies that will make my skin glow, eat more fruits, cook with lots of vegetables, go to the gym regularly and push my creative boundaries. And I do start out perfectly fine, on track, but by the end of the year, these goals have definitely faded from my mind.
For example, statistics done by YouGov show that in 2019, 47% of Brits kept some of the resolutions they made in the previous year, however, 27% kept none of their commitments. Moreover, according to the same data, most of the resolutions for 2020 are revolving around self-care, with improving fitness (47%), losing weight (44%) and improving diets (41%) as the top three resolutions. Even though the most common resolutions are centred on our own persona and we are the only ones capable of changing something for the better in our lifestyle, we still struggle to keep them.
So what is the solution to keeping our resolutions?
If you really want to self-improve, then set realistic goals instead of setting yourself up for failure.
A way of setting realistic goals is to start slow and to allow yourself time to improve with every day.
Remember that it takes 66 days to form a habit, according to a study published in 2009 in the European Journal of Psychology. However, it can vary between 18 to 254 days depending on the nature of the behaviour and many more factors.
If your goal is to eat more healthy in the new year, then start with cooking more food at home instead of eating out. Once you achieve that you can start adding more fruits and vegetables in your dishes and then slowly eliminating all the toxins that eat away at your health like soda, sugar and other overly processed foods. This way you are slowly improving your lifestyle and constantly setting yourself achievable goals.
Another example would be the towering thought of exercising with which I know I struggle with. I start out with a burst of energy, by then lose motivation once I become too tired from work and other life events. It is safer and much more realistic to start slow, by watching a YouTube video with at-home exercises or by going to the gym twice a week, slowly teasing the appetite of working out and after a few weeks, you could add one more day to your soon-to-be new routine.
Another thing is that we as humans need to hold ourselves accountable more frequently, not just on some occasions. Most of the times, instead of holding myself accountable, I would close an eye on not respecting the resolution I have made and just carried on with my day. By admitting to ourselves that we are not taking the steps necessary in order to achieve a goal, we can map out a new approach and give it another try. Find motivation somewhere and use that as fuel to achieve your goals. There is nothing worse in keeping new year’s resolutions than quitting on them.
Even if you fail, try again. There is no harm in trying to succeed and always giving it your best.