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Why Keeping Resolutions Is So Hard

If you’re like millions of people around the globe, you’re coming into the new year with hopes for a brighter future. Each year, we set New Year’s resolutions, only to see them fizzle quickly in the January light. Fewer than half of people who make resolutions succeed in achieving them. Anyone who has been in a gym during the first few weeks of the year can attest to how quickly the resolution crowd disappears.

Why is it so hard to stick to our New Year’s goals even when we have the best of intentions on January first? It turns out there are many reasons. Understanding why New Year’s resolutions so often fail can help you unlock success this year.

The resolution is too lofty.

One key to achieving your dreams is to set achievable goals. If something seems impossible, it’s harder to sustain your motivation, especially in the long term (which you need if you’re going to make your New Year’s resolution a true lifestyle change).

Often people set goals that are hard to achieve. They might vow to work out five days a week or to stop checking social media after dinner. However, trying to make such a drastic change can set you up for failure. Instead, make your goal something that is challenging, but achievable.

The goal is not specific enough.

How often have you made a New Year’s resolution to “lose weight” or “spend less.” While those ideas are a good start, you really need to drill down to specific, measurable goals in order to keep yourself motivated. The acronym SMART has become popular for evaluating goals, and the first two letters stand for “specific” and “measurable.” To increase your chances of success for keeping goals during 2019, make sure that you know exactly what your goal is and how you will measure your progress.

The language is too negative.

The power of positive thought has become a popular mantra, and it can be applied to goal setting. People often find it easier to focus on positive goals (like “Eat three servings of vegetables each day.”) than negative goals (like “Stop eating junk.”). Yet on New Year’s many people focus on the habits they want to avoid rather than healthier habits they want to build. When you’re setting goals for 2019, be sure to phrase them in a positive light.

Setting New Year’s resolutions is working against the odds. However, achieving them doesn’t have to be impossible!