Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail–and What To Do About It

December 28, 2022 | Leadership

Photo by Engin Akyurt:

If you’re like most people, you’re thinking ahead to the new year. And if those thoughts include new year’s resolutions, you likely know that the majority of people–at least 80 percent, according to even the most conservative estimates–fail at turning those goals into reality. 

The key to making your resolutions stick is to learn from those who buck the trend and finish what they start–those, to put it another way, who don’t do what most people do. Here are three keys to success.

1. Start small. Trying to do too much too soon is a recipe for disappointment and failure. I tend to do a habit for a month before I add other tasks. Instead, make small changes and stick with them until they become hardwired habits. Then, you can move on to the next milestone.

2. Celebrate wins and shrug off setbacks. If you’re trying to lose weight, don’t reward a workout with high-calorie food. But is a piece of chocolate going to hurt? If you’re an all-or-nothing person, then how about just a fist pump or patting yourself on the back? These small celebrations are meaningful, even if they seem inconsequential. On the other hand, if you miss a day or two executing your new habit, don’t whip yourself. And more importantly, don’t quit because you’re not perfect. Focus on consistency over time, and don’t let a speed bump become a stop sign. 

3. Have a plan. Want to eat healthier? Make a weekly meal menu. Want to commit to working out every day? Schedule it! Want to work on something new for your business? Schedule that, too! Then tell yourself, “I have two choices. I can stick to my schedule or do absolutely nothing. I mean sit-and-stare-into-space nothing.” Having this mindset may stop you from tackling other non-important non-urgent tasks to give you the illusion that you’re still being productive. 

This is another case, however, where you want to be at least somewhat flexible. If you don’t have time to prepare a healthy meal and you have to run through a drive-thru, adapt and choose chili or a salad instead of a greasy burger. Maybe you’re planning to work on something related to your professional goals, and a client or your boss calls with an urgent request. Restructure your schedule to respond but get back to your other priorities later. These pivots may not be ideal, but they are far better than giving up entirely.

With this mindset, you can accomplish amazing things in the coming year–and I’d love to hear about your goals and your progress. Connect with me on LinkedIn or at [email protected] to share your story. If you want to talk in more detail about your government sales goals and want to pursue a strategy, please feel free to schedule a time to talk here. Here’s to a great 2023!

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