5 Reasons That New Year Resolutions Fail and what to do about it!
As New Year's Eve rolls around we all tend to look back over the last year and score ourself on how well we did. If we met most of our goals then that reaffirms our self worth and encourages us to set new challenges for the next year.
Alternatively, if we didn't do so well in meeting our objectives, we tell ourselves that they weren't that important or we were too busy. Though you have to wonder why we would set ourself goals that were not important to us.
The good news is that there is a fool proof method to achieving your goals. Why goals are not achieved has been studied by many people and this problem has been solved. So why do so many people get to Valentines Day and they have already broken their New Years Resolution?
In my experience the following 10 things are why we don't meet our goals:
- You didn't write them down. This has got to be the number 1 reason. There is so much going on in our life that you can't possibly hope to remember everything. Writing down our goals starts the commitment process. It is hard to fool yourself if the evidence is right in front of you. The process of writing also forces you to think about what is really important to you, which may come as a surprise. Some of you may have read "The Secret", while I don't agree with the whole premise (see next point), I do believe that clarifying what you want will open you up to opportunities to progress a goal.
- You didn't do anything. I know "The Secret" suggests that simply focussing on a goal will cause it to be realised, however in my experience things go a lot faster if you take action. For example, one of my goals this year was to release an iPhone App and sell it on iTunes. To do that I broke the goal down and planned what steps I needed to take to get there. I needed to buy a Mac, learn objective C, XCode, Cocoa Touch, sign up for the Apple Developer Program, write code, debug, unravel the mysteries of code deployment and then negotiate the labyrinth which is iTunes Connect. I'm pretty sure if I just wrote the goal down but did nothing I wouldn't now be getting monthly deposits from Apple. So I suggest you break your goal down into tasks and start doing the tasks. It's like the old joke about how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.
- You didn't give up something else. Each day, we all only have so much time (24 hours on Earth). So unless you are near a black hole or travelling at close to the speed of light then we all have the same amount of time each day. Your days are already full so in order to meet your new goals you need to allocate some time to take action (see point 2). Not only do you need to decide what you are going to do, you need to decide what you are going to stop doing. If you aren't willing to give up something (e.g. watching 8 hours of TV a day) then you will fail. A common mistake here is to try and go cold turkey. You don't have to give up all TV, whatever you are willing to do without is time you can spend on your goals. Remember these are your goals, no-one else should determine what is important to you and if the most important thing for you is to watch 8 hours of TV a day then write it down and take action. But if it isn't then allocate some time to what is. As Stephen Covey said, "The key is not to prioritise what's on your schedule but to schedule your priorities."
- You weren't sufficiently motivated. Related to point 3, you have to be motivated enough to give up something you are already doing. The best motivators are Pain and Pleasure, in that order. So when you write down your goals you need to link them to these motivators and if possible to both of them. To exercise you might need to get up an hour earlier in the morning. Your motivation to get up needs to be stronger than your motivation to stay in a warm bed. This might be the endorphin rush you get after exercising (Pleasure), feeling better about yourself (Pleasure) or not dying early from being overweight (Pain). Habit is your friend - get yourself motivated enough to do this 21 days in a row and it will get easier.
- You think it will take too long. I hear people say, "I would love to do blah but it will take 5 years." Guess how much older you are going to be in five years time? That's right 5 years. The time will pass anyway so why not spend it doing something that is important to you?
The best news is that all of the above is in our hands, so by all means set your New Year's Resolutions tonight, but make sure you also take the above into account.
Warning - shameless plug follows:
Goals have always been a subject that has fascinated me, which is why my first iPhone App was Life Goals. If you are interested in a goal setting tool which embodies the philosophies above then check it out on iTunes or read more about it the Reefwing Software web site.