Research shows that only 12 per cent of people actually stick to their new year resolutions. The experts say unrealistic goals and not writing them down are some of the key reasons people fail.
From losing weight, to quitting smoking or learning a new skill, every year on 31 December, around half of the population will sit down, pen in hand and write down their New Year’s resolutions. The sad fact is that the majority will fail.
“Around 40 per cent of Australians write down their New Year’s resolutions each year but only 12 per cent on average actually stick to them,” says Michelle Grosvenor, psychologist at Associated Psychology Practice.
Michelle says the reason why most resolutions fail is due to the inability to set clear and specific goals and having goals that are unrealistic or unachievable.
This is supported by a survey of over 1,000 Australians conducted by Pilot Pen Australia and website, Femail, which found that ‘lack of willpower’ was the most common cause of failure, closely followed by ‘unrealistic goals and expectations’.
“It’s important to set goals that are meaningful to you and that are detailed so you have a step-by-step process of how to get there within a realistic time-frame,” says Michelle.
6 Reasons Why Resolutions Fail
1. Not having clear and specific goals that are meaningful.
2. Not having a step-by-step plan to turn ideas into actions.
3. Setting goals that are not realistic or achievable.
4. Expecting fast results and getting discouraged when they don’t come quickly enough.
5. Basing choices on motivation, rather than longer-term goals.
6. Being a critic rather than a coach.
Interestingly, research suggests that writing goals down by hand can be a powerful first step towards success.
“Taking the time to write down your goals can help you set your resolve and seeing them on paper also makes them more real. There is also a great sense of satisfaction when you cross them off your list as you achieve them,” said Michelle.
Here, Michelle shares her tips for New Year Resolution success:
5 Steps Towards New Year’s Resolution Success
1. Be Clear – write down clear and specific goals. For instance, it is more effective to set a goal of walking three times per week for 30 minutes, than it is to set a goal of “getting fitter” – then use a journal or notebook to track your progress.
2. Think long-term – when making resolutions, take a marathon rather than a sprint approach! Many people start out strong in the first two weeks of January, only to lose momentum before the end of the month because they have not paced their efforts.
3. Be Realistic – set realistic, achievable goals to increase your chances of succeeding. It’s important to honestly assess your current position before setting goals. For instance, if you set yourself a goal to obtain a job in a new industry, you may need to consider undertaking further study to achieve that goal if you don’t have the skills or experience required.
4. Visualise – spend some time thinking about how your life will be better when you achieve your goals. For instance, if your goal is to quit smoking then think about and write down all the ways that your life will improve once you have accomplished this goal, such as 1) I won’t get as puffed out when I exercise 2) my risk of cancer will decrease 3) I will save $$$ each year, and then I will be able to go for a holiday/buy a new wardrobe/ save toward a house deposit etc. Write this information down in your journal or notebook and go back to look over these potential benefits whenever you feel down or discouraged about your goals.
5. Buddy up – share your resolutions with someone who can provide support and encouragement along the way. Agree to check in with one another regularly to help maintain motivation and focus. Maybe even join an online group or program, with other people working toward similar goals.
Finally, Michelle says, “Start straight away – don’t wait for another day, week or month to pass to help you step up and achieve your goals. Don’t wait for New Year’s Eve, or Monday or next week or next month. Act now!”
Michelle Grosvenor is a psychologist at Associated Psychology Practice. Michelle also runs an online course called ‘Mindset Matters: Be a coach not a critic’ which features a 7-step process to help work towards goal achievement.
Do you have a New Year’s resolution story to tell? If so, head to Pilot Pen’s Facebook page in January for your chance to win a 2018 planner and Pilot pen. https://www.facebook.com/pilotpenaustralia