Why 92% of New Year’s Resolutions Fail (and what to do instead)
With 2021 just around the corner you will likely hear the common phrase, “near year new me”. This highlights that so many of us set about creating some major changes in our lives come January; things like eating healthier, overcoming compulsive eating or stopping binge eating. Yet, 92% of people fail to stick to their New Year’s resolution. Why does this happen, when we all start out with so much determination on the first of January?
Here are three key reasons which explain why so many New Year’s resolutions fail.
1. You are worrying about results instead of your identity
The main reason why many people fail to stick to new behaviours is because they try and achieve a performance-based goal without changing their identity first. Your current behaviours, such as binge eating or overeating are simply a reflection of your current identity.
Therefore, the recipe for sustained New Year’s resolution success is to decide the type of person you want to become and then prove it to yourself in small wins. For example, if your New Year’s resolution is to stop binge eating, become the type of person who eats three, regular, healthy meals a day.
2. You don’t have an effective accountability structure
Achieving an important goal does not happen overnight. Big changes require sustained and consistent action, which is very difficult to achieve on your own. Typically, the bigger the goal, such as breaking food addiction, the more important it is to have outside accountability support. Whether your goal is to stop binge eating or overcome compulsive eating, outside help will help to keep you motivated and on track.
3. Your goal is outside of your control
If you want to lose weight, your New Year’s resolution may be to lose 20 pounds. However, this is not all within your control. There could be various outside factors influencing your success. For example, hitting the diet plateau, slowed metabolism, contributing medications or medical problems. When the weight stops dropping off, it is very easy to lose motivation or give up altogether. Therefore, it is important to set identity-based, achievable goals.
For example, rather than losing 20 pounds, become the type of person to start eating healthy and exercising regularly. You could start small by focusing on eating a healthy breakfast and start doing light workouts at home to get into the habit of working out, before setting yourself bigger goals.
As you can see, the main reason why New Year’s resolutions fail is the ‘way’ people go about trying to achieve their goals. It begs the question of whether ‘New Year’s resolutions’ are the most effective way to bring about changes in our lives. Rather than ‘new year new me’, perhaps it would be more helpful to say ‘new year, same me but better’. This does not involve resolutions, but New Year reflections. Reflecting back on 2020 will allow you to celebrate and continue what is working and implement strategies to improve what isn’t. It will help you to approach important goals in a much more thoughtful, purposeful and sustainable way. For example:
New Year’s resolution- I want to stop binge eating in 2021.
New Year’s reflection – it is important to be healthy for myself and my family and learn some new eating habits. I want to feel like I am nourishing my body to give me enough energy to play with my children. Therefore, I am setting the goal of learning some new family healthy dinner recipes that I can cook each night. I will then increase this to breakfast and lunch.
If you are wondering how to get started with New Year’s reflections, here are ten key questions which will help you to identify what is important to you and what you need to put in place to help you reach your 2021 goals:
1. What was the biggest challenge I overcame this year?
2. What did I learn about myself?
3. What am I the proudest of in the last year?
4. What did I enjoy doing the most in 2020?
5. Who do I want to become?
6. What are my unresolved issues from 2020?
7. What do I want more of in my life?
8. What do I want less of in my life?
9. What do I need to stop doing?
10. What will I do differently in 2021?
Save yourself the frustration and disappointment of another failed New Year’s resolution and work on starting New Year’s reflections which you can use to guide value-driven, achievable goals in 2021. Reflecting, thinking and staying mindful of yourself will result in long-lasting, sustainable changes in your life, which will extend way beyond 2021.
If you would like to do things differently next year and need some guidance to help you break free from what is no longer serving in. Let's have a chat and see how I may be able to help you: