The year is gradually coming to an end and most people are already making resolutions on what they would or would not do in the coming year. Most common, among these resolutions, is to stop smoking, lose weight, learn a new skill, write a book, make new friends, double sales within an organisation or business, pay off debt, etc.
New Year Resolution Statistics
Statistics, published by Franklin Covey Consulting a while ago, reveals that over a third of New Year resolutions don’t go past January ending and over 75% are discarded soon after. And because of the dismal rate of success of most people when it comes to keeping New Year resolutions, some writers have advocated not making them at all. While you may or may not agree with their position, I’d like to say that this article is not in any way suggesting we stop making New Year resolutions. Rather, it’s aimed at unearthing the reasons our resolutions fail so we can be smarter in the coming year.
So, Why Do New Year Resolutions Fail?
I marshal some reasons below, see if you can relate with them:
Reason No 1: Our resolutions are made under pressure (everybody is doing it so I must do it). They’re made to conform to people’s expectations. They’re not based on what we truly want and desire. There’s no way our resolutions will fail if we make them based on our inner desires and wants.
Reason No 2: We make resolutions with our conscious mind while the unconscious controls a larger percentage of our daily activities. When this happens, we set the stage for a clash between our conscious mind and the unconscious but let me shock you by telling you the unconscious mind will carry the day, no matter what. Now, what exactly is the unconscious mind? It’s that part of your brain that is used to a certain activity and will want to be involved in that activity daily. It’s the still small voice that tells you to smoke just one cigarette after you have abstained for a week. Can you relate with that?
As human beings, we’re born with a clean slate but as we get involved in activities, our unconscious brain stores up memories of those events like a CD and rolls them up daily for us to and long after. Let me explain it this way. When I wanted to learn how to drive, my conscious brain was fully at work; I was conscious of the brakes, accelerator, clutch, etc but as I mastered driving, everything went into an automatic mode and now, I can drive without thinking about the brakes, clutch or what have you. That is the power of the unconscious brain at work.
The conscious brain usually starts but the unconscious takes over and makes it a part of you but when the conscious mind wakes up one day and decides to stop the activity, the unconscious brain would be the spoiler. It would constantly roll before you the joys and memories of that activity and make you salivate, for instance, smoking. It takes the conscious mind to get you into the act. For most people, the first one or two smokes tasted like poison but the unconscious mind takes over and makes smoking a part of you and keeps memories of the highs you’ve had while smoking and when you decide to quit with the conscious mind, you call for a fight with the unconscious mind and only determination and reprogramming the unconscious mind can get you through at this stage.
Reason No 3: Our resolutions are peripheral, they’re not deep. Only deep resolutions can stand the test of time and remember, life is lived on purpose, life is lived consciously, life is lived intentionally.Life is just like riding a boat on the high seas; you may not be able to control the waves but you definitely can control how the boat reacts to the waves. Your goals must tally with your personal vision and mission to succeed. For instance, you say you want to lose weight but when you dig deep, you realise you want to lose weight to boost your self-confidence and when you dig deeper, you realise you want to lose weight to become more accepted and liked within your community. When your resolutions are this deep, they tend to succeed as against, peripheral goals. Afterall, going to the gym everyday is really not easy but when we dig deep inside and come up with reasons to stay motivated and work on our goals, it becomes an easy ride.
Reason No 4: Our resolutions fail because we don’t take action on them. We do everything but take action: we write and rewrite goals, we breakdown goals and analyze until our analysis leads to paralysis. This is despite the fact that Sports manufacturing giant, Nike’s slogan encourages us to ‘just do it’. In essence, Nike is saying, just do it, it doesn’t have to be perfect; it doesn’t have to be superb, just do it.
Reason No 5: We can’t change anything in our lives, God gives the grace. If we submit our resolutions to God, He’ll give us the grace to achieve them. I’m a firm believer in the supernatural, when it comes to changing our lives, in any way and LeTourneau, builder of heavy-earth moving equipment is of the same view. LeTourneau motivated thousands of people with his speeches in which he referred reverently to ‘my Senior Partner’.He told about the inspiration and help he received from the ‘Partner’. LeTourneau had little formal education but he performed feats of engineering that are outstanding, all because he had a close relationship with God.
Reason No 6: You can change any day you like, why must it be only in the New Year? We have 365 days in a year, why do we constantly fuss over a few days in the New Year? I believe a change in your life can be orchestrated any day you make up your mind to, why procrastinate it to the New Year? I attended a leadership school in which our mantra was, ‘everyday in every way, I’m growing wiser, productive, higher, etc,’ so, I think change should be a daily affair and not be reserved for the New Year. I however agree that the New Year can present an opportunity to start things on a clean slate.
Reason No 7: Our resolutions also fail because we’re not accountable to ourselves and others. Any goal we set must have accountability attached to it. We must set standards for ourselves and live up to it. We must also get accountability partners by going public with our resolutions. If you tell one or two people you want to quit smoking, you’ll find it difficult to renege because you don’t want to lose the confidence those people have in you and your words. For instance, if you want to quit smoking, you might enlist the support of your family and an accountability partner who has successfully quit smoking. Such a person can help you track your goals and make sure you stay on course.
Reason No 8: Our New Year resolutions fail because they’re unrealistic. For every goal to succeed, it must conform to the S.M.A.R.T concept. Goals must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
An example of an unrealistic goal is someone saying he would run a 200 mile marathon when he’s never done something like that in his life. Start small, set specific, realistic and measurable goals. You’d be successful that way.
How Then Do You Make a New Year Resolution?
Make it based on what you truly desire and not what others think and commit to it every day of your life. Also, reprogram your unconscious mind to accept your resolution as the new way you want to live your life. That way, you’ll experience much success and fulfillment.
What other reason do you think causes New Year resolutions to fail?