Doesn’t it seem like just yesterday when 2018 was being heralded in?
Now we stand at the crossroads of a new beginning once again. And for many of us, that means resolving to do something good for ourselves in the upcoming year.
Maybe this is the year you will finally lose those last 20 pounds, organize your home, save more money, enjoy life to the fullest, buy a gym membership to get fit or learn something new. By the way, those are among the top resolutions.
Unfortunately, we often start with the best of intentions but rarely achieve our goals. In fact, while almost half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each year, only 8% of them succeed, while 24% never succeed or actually fail.
Surprisingly, age is also a factor; while 39% of people in their twenties achieve their goals, only 14% of those over the age of 50 do.
These statistics are pretty glum, right? But wait! Do you really need to make a New Year’s resolution? In my opinion, no. Here’s why.
When you resolve to do something you’ve never before been able to accomplish, you know you are in for a serious struggle. If you haven’t been able to make it stick before, what will change this time?
That makes motivation a key factor in success. If you are only making a resolution because it’s that time of year again and all your friends and family members are doing it, that just isn’t good enough.
It’s the difference between extrinsic (external) motivation and intrinsic (personal) motivation. The first might be enough to effect brief change but only the latter allows you to stick to a long-term plan.
I know that when I resolved to lose weight and adopt a healthier diet/lifestyle, I had to be “scared straight” before I could make lasting change; that is, I saw many doctors and had a lot of medical testing in response to several nagging symptoms. Up until that point, I just couldn’t stick with the program. It wasn’t until my motivation was right – wanting to be healthy to live a pain-free, long life – that I found success.
Another way that many of us fail in achieving our New Year’s resolutions is that we think about them as brief, fleeting goals. Statistics show that 65% of people are still on track after one month and less than half of us continue working on our goals six months into the year. If we give up so easily, it’s plain to see why we keep making the same resolutions year after year.
It’s like being on a weight-loss diet; once you lose enough pounds to reach your target weight, it’s natural to go back to old habits. This is because you are thinking of it as a “diet,” a short-term solution for a lifetime problem.
The key is to change your lifestyle, not just your eating habits for a few months. Lasting success can only occur via lasting change. Your diet and exercise routines, vitamin regimens and healthy hobbies are all habits you need to do from now until forever. You have to make it past that first month, the next few months, and throughout the entire year.
January is not necessarily the best time to focus on improving yourself and your lifestyle.
For one, you are joining thousands of other people who just started a new gym membership. Many people are not comfortable putting their out-of-shape body on display alongside hordes of others. Plus, that means the machines are popular, classes are full and you have to fight the crowds to get fit.
Right after the holidays is often an emotional time. In fact, January is one of the most depressing months of the year. Deciding to make a major life change while fighting the blues is a recipe for disaster.
Another factor? The weather. It’s much more difficult to get up and going during the wee hours of the morning when it’s dark and cold outside. In fact, it’s easier to just sleep in and hit the snooze button than stick to your resolutions.
If you know yourself well enough to realize you just won’t accomplish much in the dead of winter, then wait to start your fitness goals in the spring.
If you haven’t yet made any New Year’s resolutions for 2018, don’t despair. It doesn’t make you a bad person and it doesn’t mean you won’t better your life this year. It’s okay to wait until you are ready to commit to your goals and make sure they last for a lifetime.
With the right motivation and an eye on the long-term and the right time, you enjoy a much better chance of achieving lasting change.
What do you think about making New Year’s resolutions or goals? Do you think making New Year’s resolutions is necessary? Have you felt motivated to make a New Year’s resolution this year? Please join the conversation.