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8 Reasons New Year’s Resolution Don’t Stick (and What To Do Differently Next Time)

by | Jan 5, 2011 | General Career Advice

I know the title of this article assumes the worst and maybe that’s not fair. But let’s be honest here. Statistics show that, right now, about half of us have already given up on our New Year’s resolutions. And, in another few weeks, half of those left will have forgotten all about it as well. It’s not that I don’t have faith in myself or in you. It’s the research. How can I argue with math?

So, should we happen to realize that our New Year’s resolutions have fallen by the wayside (now or in the future), we shouldn’t beat ourselves up. We’re not alone! There are several common reasons this happens. Instead of getting down and thinking of this as a “failure“, let’s focus on figuring out what happened. Do some analysis and find ways to ensure that, in the future, things will be different.

Below, I’ve compiled a list of the top eight reasons people don’t follow through on their resolutions and I’ve also provided some tips to improve our chances next time. And by the way, “next time” doesn’t necessarily mean NEXT YEAR. You can make a “resolution” any time you’d like.

1. No Plan

A lot of people forget that a resolution is really just a GOAL. It has to be treated as such. It doesn’t have additional superpowers just because it starts on January 1. A goal requires structure. Otherwise, it’s a wish.

Next time: Be proactive. Make your plan. Look for possible obstacles and prepare for how you’ll deal with them. Don’t just cross your fingers and hope for the best.

2. No Clear “Why”

Motivation matters. If you don’t know why the goal is important, it’s easy to drop.

Next time: Clarify exactly why you’re doing this, why you NEED to do this. Write it down. Post it in visible locations. Create small reminders to help keep you focused when times get hard.

3. Setbacks…

Let’s face it: No one is perfect. We all fall off the wagon at some point. You need a clearly defined plan for what to do when setback occur and how you’ll get back on track.

Next time: Recognize that things will get hard and unexpected obstacles will get the better of you. That’s no reason to give up completely. Give yourself some leeway. Find ways to forgive yourself and reignite the passion.

4. No Support Network

Friends and family are important. They can help raise you up or push you down, depending on the nature of the relationship. With any goal, it’s important to surround yourself with people who believe in what you’re doing and want to see you succeed.

Next time: Gather your groupies! Let them know what you’re doing and why and ask if you can count on them to help you reach your goal. If they’re not supportive, keep them at a distance, at least with regard to this particular goal.

5. Moving Too Fast / Taking On Too Much

Many of us get a little over-zealous around the New Year. We want to make huge leaps of progress overnight, but real growth is a slow and steady journey.

Next time: Take it one step at a time. Go in with reasonable expectations and be patient. It’s not about how much you achieve and how quickly. Focus on one, really important goal. Put one foot in front of the other each and every day. Momentum will naturally build as you make incremental improvement.

6. No Accountability

Sure, you wanted to succeed. But, in the dark of night when you’re all alone, it’s easy to get persuaded by that nagging negative voice inside your head. You know the one. The voice that says you’re not cut out for this. An accountability partner helps keep you focused and on track, even when you think you’re ready to throw in the towel.

Next time: Find one person who promises to hold you accountable. When you say you’re going to do something, this person (gently and supportively) follows up to make sure you’ve stayed true to your word. An accountability partner will help silence the saboteur in your head.

7. Lack of Importance

Perhaps you set a goal that others wanted you to set. Or one you felt you “should” set. That’s not very motivating. It’s easy to give up on something that never really mattered that much to you in the first place.

Next time: Choose a goal that matters. Don’t do it for anyone else but YOU. If it’s not something you truly believe in, you’ll never succeed.

8. Fear of Success / Self-Sabotage

This sounds counter-intuitive, I know. Truth be told, a lot of goals sound great in theory but once you actually start thinking of what life will be like once it’s accomplished, fear can easily set in. Sometimes, we’re so attached to who we are and life as we know it—flaws and all—that we unconsciously sabotage ourselves.

Next time: Be prepared for this. Recognize that fear is just another part of the process. Think long and hard about what you want from life and what you’re capable of. While it’s scary to push past your pre-conceived limits, it’s also a necessary part of self-growth. Use fear to fire yourself up.

So happy New Year everyone! Oh, and in case you need a reminder, you’re awesome. Anything you want, you can achieve. I have faith in you, no matter what the stupid research says about stupid New Year’s resolutions.

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About the Author

Chrissy Scivicque is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP) and certified Professional Career Manager (PCM). She is an author, in-demand presenter and international speaker known for engaging, entertaining, educating and empowering audiences of all sizes and backgrounds. Learn more here.

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