Refocusing your goals – Why most New Year’s resolutions fail

new year

Refocusing your goals – Why most New Year’s resolutions fail

For many of us, December is a month of reflection, a time to look back on the past year, and a time to look forward to the possibilities of the year to come.

The approach of the New Year brings with it the hope of new beginnings – it is an invitation to personal change, a symbolic opportunity to re-examine our lives and start afresh.

New Year’s resolutions are made by millions of people around the world, each of them vowing to break bad habits and build better ones.

But why do most of these resolutions fail?

Here are four common reasons why:

In setting unrealistic goals, we set ourselves up for failure. If you are a person who does not enjoy exercise, and your resolution is to go to the gym every day at 6am before work, it’s pretty unlikely you’ll be able to sustain that for a whole year. You may keep it up for a few weeks, or even months, but adhering to such a rigid schedule long-term will always be a struggle, especially if it doesn’t come naturally.

When you inevitably miss one day at the gym, it may be very easy to become dejected and to give up – and this could spiral into feelings of guilt, inadequacy or low self-esteem.

2. Our goals are too vague, making it hard to know when we are meeting them.

Goals like “exercise more” or “eat more fruit” may be positive, but they don’t include any markers to help you track your progress.

Setting specific goals for the short, medium and long-term can help you to stay focused and motivated throughout the course of the year.

For example, saying you’ll participate in three half-marathons, one in March, one in August and one in November, is far more likely to lead to success.

3. Our goals don’t reflect what we actually want.

Many people fail to meet their goals because they’re not really committed to them. Especially today, it can be very easy to set our goals based on the expectations or actions of others. Thanks in large part to social media, the most common New Year’s resolutions are those related to diet and exercise. While such resolutions are healthy on paper, they are not necessarily the right resolutions for everyone.

It’s important to set goals which are rooted in a genuine desire to change an area of your life for the better – regardless of what other people may be doing.

4. We’ve framed our goals in negative terms.

Goals that are framed using negative language, like “I’m going to give up chocolate” or “I’m going to cut down on Uber rides”, can be counter-productive in the long run.

For example, let’s say I tell you not to think of a pink elephant for the next minute. As the seconds go by, you expend more and more effort trying not to think of a pink elephant, until the pressure builds so much that you yield and allow yourself to think of it.

Framing your resolution in positive language, like “I’m going to walk or cycle to work X times a month”, gives you something to channel your creative energy into as well as a means to track your progress.

Refocusing your goals

So how can we set New Year’s resolutions that are more likely to create lasting change?

Here are four ways to boost your odds of success:

1. Set goals that are realistic. Don’t put the cart before the horse; start small and work upwards.

2. Make specific goals. Set out clearly what you’re going to do, how you’ll do it, and when.

3. Choose goals that are right for you. Be honest with yourself about what you want to change.

4. Frame your resolution in positive language. Instead of trying to resist an unhealthy habit, pour all your energy into building a new one.

It’s important to acknowledge that failure is still possible. Even if you make a resolution that’s realistic, you may slip up along the way – but that’s no reason to give up. Follow these four tips and your chances of success will increase significantly.

So this New Year, why not commit to setting resolutions that are realistic, specific, positively framed and reflective of what you really want.

If you liked this article, check out our 5 ways to kickstart a healthy 2022, written by our nutritionist! 

The team at NATURECAN wishes you a HAPPY, HEALTHY 2022!