The very last thing the majority of us will do at the end of each year is make a Resolution. And the very first thing most of us will do in the New Year is go ahead and break it! Propelled into action by the waves of optimism generated by friends, family and the abundance of ‘New Year, New You’ articles, too many of us quickly find our enthusiasm waning by the second week of January.
With many psychologists now telling us that New Year Resolutions are ‘doomed to failure’, it’s not surprising that some of us will be wondering whether there’s any point in even bothering. In fact, a 2007 study by Richard Wisemen from Bristol University involving 3,000 people, showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.
But what is it that actually holds us back from being successful? After all, we’re not stupid people. The majority of us have experienced success at some point or another – be it gaining a promotion, achievements in the classroom or on the sports field and creating homes and families – so we know we’re perfectly capable of making a go of things. So why exactly is it that when it comes to ‘that time of year’, most of us set targets only to fall spectacularly quickly at the first hurdle?
Research shows that these are the TOP 5 REASONS people fail. Make sure you don’t fall into the same trap.
Mistake No. 1 – Forgetting what your resolution is. Seriously! Test yourself if you don’t believe me. Can you really remember all the resolutions that you made last year? And not only the ‘lose weight/get fit/quit smoking’ ones you told your family about but also those quiet, private ones you made to yourself. What did you tell yourself, honestly? What commitments did you make?
Most of us make our Resolutions in a last minute hurry on December 31st, in a drunken embrace just before the clock strikes midnight. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we promise to climb Mount Everest; take up charity work; learn a foreign language; seek out old friends; start baking or put finances in order. Come the 2nd week of January we’ll be scratching our heads to remember what it was we wanted to achieve – never mind, the 2nd week of February.
This is the first mistake, for how we make those Resolutions will already mean the di?erence between success and failure. Take the time to write everything down in a special notebook and refer to it on a daily basis.
And by the way, it’s OK to change your mind along the way. You might find that you come up with a completely brilliant idea in the 3rd week of January and can delete a few of your earlier thoughts.
Mistake No. 2 – Focusing on what you don’t want. This is an easy mistake to make, for most of us find it easier to identify what we don’t like about our lives, rather than focusing on what we do want.
Have you ever caught yourself using these phrases:
“I just want to stop being so fat” rather than “I want to lose weight and be slim”
“I’m fed up of feeling so out of condition” rather than “I want to get fit”
“I want to stop feeling so lonely” rather than “I want to make new friendships”
Does this matter? Well yes, it matters a great deal. As we think and speak, our minds make mini pictures out of the words we use and almost as if we’re operating on auto-pilot, we’ll find ourselves being magnetically drawn to those negative pictures – ie. precisely what we don’t want in our lives, rather than what we do. So, always phrase your Resolutions in the ‘positive’ for a positive outcome.
Mistake No. 3 – The resolutions are far too vague. Vague resolutions such as “I want to get fit”, “I want to see the world and travel” or “I want to take up a new hobby” make it harder for you to get started. What exactly are you hoping to achieve and where are you supposed to begin?
You see, the longer you take to get started, the less likely you are to start at all. As soon as there’s a whiff of failure, you’ll quickly push the idea to the back of your mind, because let’s face it, no-one likes to be reminded of their shortcomings. Be very specific about what it is you’re aiming for. So, if you want to lose weight, then exactly how much do you want to lose and by when? Is there a specific reason for losing weight? Be sure to include all this information.
Mistake No. 4 – Failing to consider the HOW part. Having dreamt up a Resolution, most people fail to think about the kind of resources they’ll need to achieve their goal. Do this first.
Identify all the resources you’ll need in advance – what will you need to get you started and what will you need further down the line? Have you ever done this before? Is there more than one way to achieve this outcome? Which way will be best for you? What’s your first step going to be? And then the next?
And if you don’t know, simply ASK. Do some research on the internet, consult a professional, phone a friend or even better, find someone who has already achieved what you’re aiming for and pick their brains.
Mistake No. 5 – Self-sabotage. Self-sabotage? No…. surely not. Why would any of us want to do that? Many of us self-sabotage our goals because we suddenly find that we don’t truly want to achieve them. Quite simply, we made the wrong choice and this is especially true of New Year resolutions that are made on the spur of the moment with a lack of planning.
Take the time to consider your resolutions – will a successful outcome actually fit in with your life and personal values? Is your resolution meaningful for you? Think carefully about how your goal will impact others around you. Would you really want that promotion if it meant travelling away from home for weeks at a time and being separated from your loved ones?
Think carefully about whether you stand to lose anything in your life as a result of achieving this goal. Asking yourself questions such as “When don’t I want this outcome?” will help you to set appropriate boundaries for yourself.
Alicia Eaton is a Clinical Hypnotherapist and NLP Coach based in London’s Harley Street. You can download the first couple of chapters of her book ‘FIX YOUR LIFE with NLP” at www.aliciaeaton.co.uk