Yes. 88% of New Year's Resolutions Fail to Reach the Goal Post
The 5 Steps to Make Them Work
Happy February! (already so soon). So yet another January officially behind us.
Did it fly by at supersonic speed, or is that my impression?
Dare I ask how 'on track' you are with your New Year's resolutions one month in?
Did you even make any resolutions or set any goals for 2018?
The truth is that many of us start the year with the best of intentions, set the goals and promise ourselves how this year will be different.
Very quickly we lose ground, feel overwhelmed when we can't keep up, which opens a whole Pandora's box of emotions and guilt.
Food for thought...
In the U.S alone it is estimated that 50% of all Americans set New Year's resolution. Which is fair enough. What's amazing is that 88% of all those set resolutions fail which means that 156 million failed resolutions each and every year. And that's only in the U.S. Think about that number worldwide?
That amounts to a lot of disappointed minds every year... and a whole lot of overwhelm!
There is a reason for this (you would hope so...) It all comes down to the fact that your brain just can't handle New Year's resolutions! The culprit is none other than Willpower!
Goals and Resolutions take an awful lot of Willpower.
Basically, our brains just can't handle goals. When we exercise willpower we are essentially overloading the part of the brain - the pre-frontal cortex - that copes with staying focused, handling short-term memory, and solving abstract tasks to name a few.
Think of the pre-frontal cortex is a muscle, and like all muscles it needs to be trained, so when you 'set' those wonderful goals and resolutions like going dropping a couple of dress sizes, starting power yoga (when you've never done a simple downward dog pose) or the all-time-classic; stopping smoking, it's like dragging you from your stuck-to-the-sofa-netflix-induced-coma to run a 10 mile marathon, without doing any training!
Surprise, surprise - it’s not your fault! Our brain just can't handle it. Interesting hey?
The key to success is that your goal has to be tied to a specific behaviour, otherwise it's impossible for the brain to focus on it. This is the crucial factor. What does this mean?
"The problem is clear: any abstract goal you have that is not tied to a specific behavior is nearly impossible for your brain to focus on. Making it “instinctual,” which is the crucial aspect that will help you achieve any new habit, is missing in 90% of all New Year’s resolutions, which makes them so likely to fail." - Leo Widrich
If you want to help your little ol' pre-frontal cortex to do its job and stay on board with all you've set out to achieve, turn your resolutions into habits. Chunk the goal down into nice doable actions.
To give you an idea, let's look at some typical resolutions and explain what I mean:
RESOLUTIONS vs HABITS
Resolution: Stopping smoking vs Habit: Stop smoking that one cigarette you have every morning after breakfast (365 cigarettes less a year/ 18 packets)
Resolution: Drop two dress sizes (10 kilos/20 pounds) in 2 months vs Habit: Start substituting that one daily morning croissant for a healthy green smoothie.
Resolution: Start Power Yoga vs Habit: Practice 1 simple yoga pose every day for a week, then add one more pose and build up until you know all the basic poses and can do them all with ease, only then will you be ready to Power up!
Resolution: Manage stress vs Habit: Meditate for 2-3 minutes every morning after you wake up.Lock in the habit. Keep in mind it takes an average of 66 days to establish a new habit.
5 Simple Steps to make your resolutions stick - and reach your Goals
1. Choose only one resolution. Yes! One only. Stop overloading and overwhelming yourself. One resolution that you turn into a full out habit is way better than four that you gave up on! When this becomes a habit, move onto the next resolution on your list.
2. Make it a tiny habit with tiny baby steps. As B.J Fogg, Ph. D of Stanford University recommends: To create a new habit, you must first simplify the behaviour. Make it tiny, even ridiculous. A good 'tiny behaviour' is easy to do - and fast. E.g.
- Floss one tooth
- Walk for 3 minutes
- Do two push-ups
It all adds up and 3 minutes becomes 10 minutes fast and easy, two push-ups turn into ten 60 second planks!
3. Bring on board others to keep you accountable for the changes you are making. Sharing with your family or friends the 'tiny habits' you are creating can help you to stick with it. Accountability is powerful, and one of the leading components of working with a coaching client is holding them responsible and accountable for their actions.
4. Declaring and writing down your habits and then keeping a note of them can keep you on track, which even turns into a new habit itself, that of journaling... which is known to increase your overall happiness, and can help raise your manifesting powers into the bargain.
5. Stay positive and reward success. Positivity is good for the soul! Focus on all the positive aspects of the goal you've set; when you drop that dress size you'll be able to wear again that gorgeous silk dress you wore to your best friends wedding... When you quit smoking, you'll be way healthier, and your stamina will increase, and run that marathon...
We humans don't do anything for nothing, it's our nature! So reward yourself when you achieve certain milestones of your goal. Treat yourself to that piece of cheesecake every now and again(you'll probably find that you like it less) Celebrate yourself.
And to make you feel even better, know this - it's not your fault: Strong willpower is not a character trait!
“Research suggests that alone willpower is inherently limited and that our January promises fail in large part because the brain was not built for success.”
To run that 10-kilometre marathon you'll have to build up your stamina and strength. On the same token, to keep on top of all your habits and goals, the pre-cortex part of your brain needs a little muscle building too.
Help it along with 'pumping' habits, not weights!
Feeling better about your resolutions now?
Want some accountability?
Share in the comments 'One Resolution' that you want some support in achieving and I'd love to keep you on track!
Love & Blue Skies
Martine Metaxas - Change Catalyst. Confidence Coach. Wisdom Guide
Helping women in their 40's & 50's dare to rise, take a stand and make ripples by creating their dream life (and business)
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