How is your New Year’s resolution going? Did you know only 8 percent of Americans are successful in achieving their New Year’s resolution? Wow, that’s depressing. And half of those who make resolutions abandon them after the first month.
Well, it’s been a month and a week. I’d like to show why resolutions fail and how to come up with a resolution or goal that you will stick to.
First, here are the top 3 New Year’s Resolutions in the U.S.:
- Lose weight
- Get organized
- Spend less, save more
What is the deal, are we weak-minded or without willpower? Not exactly, says psychologist Mark Goulston. His reasons why resolutions fail:
- Many times resolutions are driven much more by emotion than logic.
So, say my resolution is to stop eating chocolate for a month. This resolution was made in the moment, rashly, when I saw the scale on January 2. I didn’t take into account how much I enjoy chocolate, nor did I determine that the one thing I needs to lose weight is to ban chocolate. (Limiting calories and increasing exercise play a role too.)
- So, one reason why many of us don’t keep our resolution is: Uncertainty. We don’t know how we are going to feel in the future.
Even though I was determined in that moment to ban the evil chocolate from my diet, I might feel differently a week later when I see my son eating a piece of his Christmas chocolate and I have a strong craving for it. I can smell it. Ooh it smells good. I see him enjoying it. I can almost taste it. That’s it—I will have just one piece. And BOOM! My resolution is thrashed. It’s over. I failed. Right?
- That leads to the third reason people don’t keep New Year’s resolutions:
“They believe that they won’t keep them and in so doing they will then either disappoint others, causing embarrassment or disappoint themselves, causing shame.” ~ Mark Goulston, M.D., FAPA
SO HOW DO I FIX IT?
- Spend more time thinking deeply about what you really want out of the year.
Many of the studies I read listed this as a reason for abandoning our New Year’s resolutions. We hadn’t truly considered all the ramifications, so when an obstacle like that tempting chocolate comes up, we cave. In other words, commit to it.
- Be realistic: Decide what you are willing to do. Am I really going to resist having a dessert when I am out to dinner with friends? Does this mean I have to become a hermit in order to lose my flub? No! In fact, a small reward for sticking to your goal is good for you, according to a study by University of Pittsburgh, Duke and Vanderbilt found that if you eat mostly healthy, but “carve out a portion of your meal for a calorie-laden treat,” it is motivating.
They call this a vice-virtue bundle. Hmm, sounds intriguing . . .
So, this addresses self-control issues we face at the dinner table or other situations.
“We determined that people are best served by making vice-virtue bundles, combinations that include primarily healthy choices but also toss in a small proportion of something indulgent, ” ~ Cait Lamberton, University of Pittsburgh
Like CHOCOLATE, or bacon, or cheese . . . .
- Find an accountability buddy or a friend who wants to accomplish the same goal, so you can cheer each other on when the going gets tough.
- Remember that one mistake does not a failure make. Encourage yourself with positive self-talk. Talk to yourself as if you were helping a friend with their goals.
So, to quote an author I know (my husband) Frank Morin, in order to set New Year’s resolutions that will last, you must “look deep, see clear.”
Resources: http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/, www.psychologytoday.com/blog/just-listen/201312/why-most-people-dont-keep-new-years-resolutions, http://www.business.pitt.edu/katz/katz/faculty/lamberton/vice-bundles.php
Set in Stone, YA novel by Frank Morin, http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_noss?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=set+in+stone+by+frank+morin