New Year Resolutions - Why they fail and how to stick to them

As New Year rolls around many of us look back on the previous twelve months and find that we may not have achieved everything that we set out to. We may not have lost that excess weight, or saved that extra money, or landed that job, so we make the same promises to ourselves to do it the next year instead.

If you’re one of those annual failures, don’t be so hard on yourself. Almost 80%* of us fail to stick to our resolutions, with our good intentions lasting an average of just 24 days, which is when our willpower weakens. In fact, only 3% of us will manage to stick to our promises for a full twelve months. **

The most common New Year Resolution is to get fit^ (which is why your gym is always so busy during January), closely followed by losing weight and improving our diet. This perhaps isn’t surprising when we consider how much we consume over the Christmas period. But the holiday hangover inevitably ends and life goes on as before, making it difficult to remember why we were so determined to get into shape. The biggest danger of the ‘get fit/lose weight’ resolution is the lack of instant results sends us reaching for something more rewarding.

This applies to all kinds of resolutions and the reason is that we are simply aiming too high and setting ourselves unattainable goals that we just can’t achieve in a matter of weeks.

Making resolutions just because it’s New Year isn’t a good idea. Committing to something you aren’t fully devoted to is setting yourself up for failure. If you are serious about making changes you should remember that you can do this at any time of the year, not just January!

If you’re determined to set yourself a goal for 2015 here are some handy hints to avoid the pitfall of ‘Fail Friday.’

Be realistic – There isn’t much point in setting yourself a goal to win the lottery or anything else based on chance, you need something you can actually achieve!

There’s no such thing as failure – If you fall down at the first hurdle, get back up and try again. Just because you ate a bar of chocolate, it doesn’t mean that you can’t eat a little healthier tomorrow.

Set yourself small targets – Trying to fulfil your resolution in January is unattainable. Remember that you have twelve months to achieve what you set out to do. By giving yourself weekly or monthly achievable objectives you can work towards your end goal in small manageable chunks and reward yourself for doing so each time. For example, if you’re hoping to make a large purchase, such as a new home, setting up a savings account could be January’s goal. Small and simple but it still brings you one step closer!

Get a support system – Do you know anyone with similar goals to yours? Find a support group, or share encouragement with friends or family. When you feel like giving up there will always be someone there to kick start your motivation.

Be flexible – Don’t panic if something changes in your life that sets you back or changes your priorities. That’s life and anything can happen between January and December. It doesn’t mean you’ve failed!

*http://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/help-information/mental-health-a-z/N/new-years-resolutions/ 
**http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/poll-reveals-fail-friday-as-the-day-you-are-most-likely-to-break-your-new-years-resolution-9034571.html 
http://yougov.co.uk/news/2014/01/03/new-years-resolutions-britain-looks-health-2014/