Starting the new year is a perfect time to reevaluate, have a fresh look at your life, and begin a few new ways. Some people feel the urge to start things over on their birthday, or the beginning of a new year of marriage. At work, the urge is triggered by end-of-year evaluations’ time or simply on Mondays, the beginning of the work week. It just feels right to hit the ‘refresh’ button at these turning points.
Was this you last year? On New Year’s Eve, you became inspired to start some things over. You gave it some thought, you decided what you wanted to do, and you got started on a new goal. By the end of the month, you forgot all about it. When you did think of the Resolution, you had a bunch of guilt that made you stop going toward it altogether.
Forbes has done research to conclude that about 80% of people who make New Year’s resolutions will abandon them by the second Friday of January. This is so incredibly predictable that there’s a name and date for this. It’s called Quitters’ Day. This year, January 12, 2024, is Quitters’ Day.
Does this discourage us from starting? New Year’s resolutions have such a bad rap that lots of people just don’t do them now. I don’t know about you, but being called a quitter by the media or even by myself is something I want to avoid. Therefore, no resolutions!
But I want to gently remind you that if you don’t attempt a change, you won’t change. We know that many goals and results are extremely hard to accomplish the first time around. Yea, it’s true you might fail at it the first time.
Do you know anyone who has attempted to quit smoking cigarettes? Many surveys suggest that smokers try to quit an average of six times before succeeding. I must confess I’ve been a real quitter on Quitters’ Day in the past. It’s oddly comforting that other people also have trouble carrying out well-meaning life-changing goals. I’m not alone!
Ok, we know there needs to be a change, or it wouldn’t pop into our head that now is a great time to shake it up. Don’t let the research on failed resolutions keep you from beginning a change you know you need in your life. Please don’t stop before you start.
My personal example of setting a colossal unattainable goal was to become fluent in Italian in one year. After setting this goal and working at a pace I could manage all year, I’ve fallen so short of being fluent, that it makes me laugh out loud!
I haven’t given up on the result of becoming conversationally fluent, but now I have a more realistic timeline. I’ve learned that to reach fluency, I’ll need to dedicate at least 2-3 years to the language, with consistent daily or weekly study. I share this to show that results won’t happen if our goals are unattainable! We will reach “Quitters’ Day” sooner or later.
In this article, I will refer to those large overall goals that we hope to attain as the result. These goals are big, vague, and what we really want in the long run. My personal example of a result is becoming fluent in Italian. As you continue reading, I refer to the goal as the baby steps and the result is the big overall goal.
I encourage you to look at goals differently.
The result of doing these baby step goals is the fluency, the more fit body, the calmer mind. To fine tune your goals into small steps or baby goals makes change attainable. One reason our resolutions have failed is that we look at the end result as the goal.
I’ve failed at being fluent in Italian in the past year. However, I’m still practicing. I learned to give the result time. My new realistic goal is 30 minutes, 5 days a week practicing the language. I look forward to the Italian language fluency as I take the daily steps to meet my goals.
Did you stop trying to reach your goal due to making it unattainable? Start again. Face the failure and figure out how to make it realistic. If you want to lose 50 lbs., that’s your result of the smaller goals of exercise, healthy eating, getting more sleep. Those small goals will change your lifestyle and give you the result you hope for. That picture in your head of you, 50 pounds lighter, is the result. It will happen with small attainable goals. So set those goals!
If you stopped the process of attaining the result you want because you didn’t set small accomplishable goals, start over. Break it down. Be kind to yourself. Don’t stop before you start. If you quit by “Quitters’ Day,” then pick it back up and try again. Be just like those smokers who started their goal over and over and now don’t touch the stuff. They are incredibly strong people, and I commend them! Let’s be strong and courageous – and start again.
You know a buddy is going to ask you about your resolution, and this could be enough for you to keep going. For me, it was paying for an Italian tutor and having Zoom meetings together. She can tell when I haven’t studied, so it motivates me to put in the time. For you this could be a life coach, or a good friend who truthfully checks in on your progress.
What makes you want to do it? Is the intended result for your health? For your family? For financial security, or a purchase? In my case, I have new Italian friends that I want to respectfully speak with in their native language. My long-term result of fluency is because I care about them. Also, I’m motivated to keep my aging brain sharp.
If getting skinnier to fit into your old clothes is your result, then try them on now and then. Keep going until they fit well. When your result is that you finally get to wear them again, tell yourself you will buy a small clothing item that fits beautifully. If getting a certain amount in your savings account is the result you want, then when you hit certain deposit marks, allow something fun for yourself.
Technology has brought us websites like StickK.com and Beeminder.com that invite you to put money on the line that you’ll have to forfeit to a charity if you don’t achieve a stated goal. StickK.com states that it utilizes the psychological power of loss aversion and accountability to drive behavior change. Beeminder is similar in that it provides reminders with a sting! That sting is loss of money.
I’m not ready for that, but some of you might be!
I encourage you to set some attainable New Year’s resolutions this year. You have the courage and strength to do this in the right way to stop giving resolutions a bad rap.
Have you stopped making New Year’s resolutions due to the bad rap quitters have given it? What’s your resolution? Are you sure it’s your goal or is it your result? Can you share a time you broke it down to attainable goals and finally reached a well-deserved goal? Let’s have a conversation about failed or attained resolutions.