I’m sorry. I truly am. And I totally understand what you’re going through, because it’s happened to me too. Waking up on January 1st with a glimmer of hope in my eye. Slogging through the cycle of failure and resolve for twenty-something days. Finally deciding on February 1st that it’s not worth it all. I’ve done that more times than I can count. It’s pitiful. Really.
At least you’re not alone. According to business author Stephen Shapiro, about 73% of Americans almost never succeed in keeping their New Year’s resolutions. He says that about 8% of the population is always successful. StatisticBrain has similar findings, reporting that only 9.2% felt they were successful in keeping their resolutions. Such a small achievement rate has led to 42% of those polled admitting that they absolutely never make New Year’s resolutions.
This certainly seems like the right approach. I mean, if only one out of four people sometimes finish their New Year’s resolutions then why even bother? What’s the point of going through the same failures every year? Why build up hope just so you can fail? Why do we even make resolutions at the beginning of the year?
Put simply, a new year is . . . new. It symbolizes new beginnings. A clean slate. A new start in life. So we take action. We look back at our failures and decide to change them. We’re attracted to this feeling of starting something new. Of being someone new. Someone better. But if we actually want to be better, then why limit it to January 1st?
Every day is like a clean slate. Once the sunlight starts spilling into your bedroom, what we you do? We make an agenda for the day, effectively making a new day’s resolutions. We even have a new week’s and maybe new month’s resolutions. Every week we have plans for what to do: meet up with friends on Friday, go to church on Sunday, and get depressed on Monday. Every month we schedule appointments and meetings.
We’re already making resolutions every day, every week, and even every month. We just don’t see them as resolutions, because, to us, a resolution is generally something that will change you, as a person. Then why don’t we do that? Why don’t we have real, life-changing resolutions every week or every month? Maybe it’s because our goals seem so unattainable that we need a year to finish them. Or maybe it’s because we’re just too lazy to try to change our lives.
If you want to change—really change—then you’ll take the necessary steps to do so. And you’ll do so immediately.
I know of a friend who wanted to change his life. He didn’t like how he was living. He realized the need. He was ready to change. The problem was that he was moving in two months, and he decided that he would reinvent himself once he moved. He didn’t want to make the change immediately. If you want to change—really change—then you’ll take the necessary steps to do so. And you’ll do so immediately.
So how do you turn your failed New Year’s resolutions into more realistic resolutions? Every New Year’s resolution is one big goal: lose weight, eat healthy, save money, read the entire Bible. These are big, unmanageable goals, but they can be easily transformed into realistic resolutions in just two stages.
First, you have to break these goals down into steps. Ask yourself: what steps do I have to do to accomplish these goals? These can be very broad or general steps. For example, eating healthier is a big goal. However, you can break this goal down into three general steps. You may first have to cut down on overtly bad foods such as greasy fried chicken and sweet, creamy donuts. Then the next step may be to replace these foods with healthy fats such avocados and nuts. After this, the next, more obsessive, step may be to monitor how many grams of fat you consume every day. Three big steps to eating healthier.
Second, you must break these steps down into weekly or monthly resolutions. Using the healthy eating example: for one week, you avoid donuts. The next week you avoid fried chicken. The next week you eat more nuts. Next, avocados. Or you could just split it up into three months. One month for each step.
The resolutions you make must be tailor-made for you. We are all different, and our goals should reflect that. These resolutions must also be feasible, but progressive. Remember that every marathon is run one step at a time. So take action and set your resolutions, because if you want to change—really change—then you’ll take the necessary steps to do so.
Post Script: Personally, I like monthly resolutions better than weekly ones. For me, monthly resolutions clearly straddle the divide between ambitious New Year’s resolutions and realistic goals. But that’s just me.