Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail And What to Do About It

I know it isn’t Christmas yet but just around the corner is the time for New Year’s Resolutions! Some people swear by them and others swear at them but very few people have a neutral feeling about the matter.

Personally, I don’t do New Year’s Resolutions because I don’t want to wait to make a change when I know I need to get it done. That’s the main reason New Year’s Resolutions fail. If it can wait until New Year’s Day, then the pain to change isn’t bad enough. If the pain of something is too big for you to do keep doing what you have been doing, then change now. Don’t wait for the calendar to flip over to a new year.

Most people simply say a few words or make a few statements and the really bold write down their resolutions but then quickly fail to keep them. A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol concluded that nearly 90% of New Year’s Resolutions fail (Wikipedia). That figure sounds just about right to me.

If you really want to make a change, you need to apply something that I learned in B school. You must have a roadmap to make a change and the way that has worked for me is through the acronym SMART.

S- Your goal must be specific. The more specific, the better to enable you to reach your goal. Visualize it and make it as real as possible. If you want to lose 25 pounds, picture yourself weighing 25 lbs. less. If you have an old picture of you at the lower weight, put it up on your bulletin board to give you a visual of where you want to head.

M- Your goal must be measurable. If you can’t measure it, you won’t know when you have reached your goal. If you want to limit your sugar intake, you can’t have a goal to simply eat less. You need a measurable goal like a 25% reduction in your sugar intake and need to know how much you are intaking currently.

A- Your goal must be attainable. Setting a goal that you cannot reach will quickly devolve into a situation when you lose hope. You must be able to attain it in a reasonable amount of time and if you don’t, most likely you will simply give up.

R- Your goal must be realistic. If you want to lose 90% of your body weight, that is simply not realistic. Make a crazy goal is the mindset of some people but what scientists have found is that the less realistic, the less likely that you can maintain your goal.

T- Your goal must be timely. If you make a goal that cannot be reached for 25 years, how motivated are you going to be to work on it every day? That’s why people don’t save as they should. It just takes a little bit of effort every day or a Herculean effort in a small amount of time according to the thinking of most people. Make intermediate goals if you have a long-term goal but people who can’t celebrate regularly won’t celebrate at all.

Hopefully, these will help you make a resolution that will stick and the great thing about following this acronym is that it will work any time of the year, not just on New Year’s Day!