- Many New Year’s resolutions fail due to lack of specificity and practicality. A concrete resolution with an explicit end goal is more likely to succeed.
- Recovering lost resolutions can be achieved by creating strict plans that provide specific instructions of what needs to be done.
- Publicizing your goals can act as a psychological motivator. The fear of public failure can keep you committed to your resolutions.
- Setting proximate, measurable objectives can lead to more regular and quantifiable achievements.
- Anticipating potential obstacles and understanding that minor setbacks need not derail the entire resolution can help maintain commitment to the resolution.
In the early months of a new year, there’s a high possibility that your ambitious goals for self-improvement conceived at the start of the new year may have transformed into a cumbersome load. A vast number of people pledge to reduce their food intake and augment their physical activities; quit indulging in smoking, alcohol, or reckless spending; and endeavor to streamline their chaotic lives.
According to research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, just 64 percent of New Year’s resolutions persist beyond a month, and after six months, less than half remain intact.
Reasons Your Resolutions May Fall Apart
“Many people set resolutions that don’t align with their capabilities or the practicalities of life,” said psychologist and university professor Peter Herman. “The initial surge in positivity from making a resolution often fades away in the tough grind. It then transforms into negativity.”
One key issue with the majority of resolutions, as pointed out by Herman, is their lack of specificity, without a clear indication of what the end goal is. “If your resolution is to reduce weight, what does that mean in terms of specifics? How much do you aim to drop?” he quizzed.
Crafting Concrete Resolutions
“The more specific the resolution, the better,” agreed Daniel Akst, a columnist for a prominent newspaper and author of a self-help book. “Don’t merely aspire to be a renowned author, aim to finish writing a novel.”
Retrieving your Lost Resolutions
You might be losing touch with your initial promises as the year progresses. But fear not, here are some pointers from Herman and Akst on how to recover your lost resolutions:
Forge Strict Plans
When your resolution comes with a systematic plan, it becomes less of a mental struggle. This is why Akst is a big proponent of diets that eliminate specific food groups.
“You need to devise a comprehensive strategy that provides specific instructions,” Herman advised. Instead of vaguely resolving to hit the gym twice a week, establish a clear fitness plan, possibly with the guidance of a trainer.
Publicize Your Goals
Raise the stakes by sharing your commitments with your close ones, colleagues, and social media contacts, suggested Akst. The dread of humiliation in case of failure acts as a psychological motivator.
Set Proximate Objectives
Proximate goals are ones set with humble and measurable expectations, like targeting to lose half a pound every week rather than two pounds. This results in more regular and quantifiable achievements.
Anticipate obstacles and minor setbacks that might temporarily disrupt your ambitious plans. Understand that a single deviation from the plan doesn’t need to derail your entire resolution.
The U.S. General Services Administration offers an extensive list of resources aimed at helping you achieve common goals.