Can you guess what the most popular New Year’s resolution is for 2019?
Learning a new skill? Getting out of debt? Quitting smoking or other vices? Reducing social media usage? Being nicer to people? Nope, it’s losing weight.
Anticlimactic? Perhaps, but not completely unexpected, what with 38% of people pledging to kickstart a fitness regimen this year, and another 32% yearning to eat healthier.
Here’s the catch, though: when the 2,000 people involved in the survey were asked about whether they’d stick to their resolutions or not, only half of them answered in the affirmative. This is hardly surprising, of course. I can count on one hand the number of friends, relatives, and acquaintances I’ve seen actually accomplish their goals for the new year, and I’ve been alive for more than two decades already.
But why do people find it so difficult to see their resolutions through? Here are a handful of factors that could be sabotaging everyone’s efforts:
- Wrong or non-existent reasons.
- Unrealistic goals.
- Lack of specificity.
- Harmful terminology.
- Expectations of failure.
One of my business mentors once said that finding your why for doing things is always the first step towards accomplishing anything, and new year’s resolutions are no different.
(No) thanks to influencers and the huge marketing efforts to direct our desires towards whatever brings Company X the most profits, we often end up seeking all the wrong things for all the wrong reasons, or worse, find ourselves not knowing why we want them in the first place.
In a world where you can order a ride or choose a date with a few swipes on your phone, we often forget that true progress is a journey, and that skipping it won’t always get you closer to your destination.
For instance, vowing to go to the gym five times a week when you can barely drag yourself over there once a month sets you up for failure, as is aiming to get as fit as *insert vapid influencer supermodel’s name here* when you don’t have access to the same high-level nutritionists and personal trainers.
“Losing weight” can be a fine goal, but it’s much too vague and doesn’t provide much direction on its own. Achieving a healthy weight for your build and height or shedding the 20 pounds you gained over the past year, on the other hand, gives you a more concrete goal to work towards.
Using words like “should” or “must” can bring on shame or guilt, as though you were pursuing certain improvements not because they would be especially beneficial to your life, but merely because it is expected of you.
You should still use powerful language to foster accountability to yourself, of course, but it should still be in line with your own personal reasons and no one else’s for wanting to bring about change.
Some people don’t take their resolutions seriously, mostly because they expect to fail at them. Just check out all the jokes and memes that probably appeared on your feed prior to New Year’s Eve.
Fear of failure is normal, especially when you’re about to assume a significant undertaking, but if you really want to succeed, your desire to achieve something important should exceed such.
This isn’t to say that we still shouldn’t try to better ourselves, however. Certain goals are somehow made all the more worthwhile by the fact that they aren’t easy to attain. Furthermore, for every obstacle, there is a corresponding stratagem you can use to counter it effectively.
Lastly, we shouldn’t let ourselves be limited by a yearly event. Self-improvement, after all, is and should be constant in our lives.