It’s that time of year again – where January seems like it will never end and we are starting to wonder if we can stick to our goals and resolutions this year.
There are the ever-popular resolutions like:
- Going to the gym/starting up again
- Cutting out coffee/sugar/fast food/alcohol etc
- Committing to saving more and spending less.
Whatever resolutions you are trying, it will likely be something you are adding to an already busy life.
In the past have you been able to stick with these goals?
If so, that is great, and you are in the minority! But, for the rest of us who have abandoned our goals, it is time to ask ourselves why.
A Forbes article written in February of 2020 explains that, “every year more than 50% of people make New Year’s Resolutions to lose weight, quit smoking, workout, save money, get a promotion, get a raise and more. Any yet, virtually every study tells us that about 80% of New Year’s Resolutions will get abandoned around February”
That seems like an astonishing number of people who gave up on their goals so quickly. Why is that? One would think in this day and age of self-help books, coaches and motivational speakers, free habit tracker worksheets and a cast online community of supporters that many more people would achieve the goals they set for themselves.
So why do we let our New Year’s Resolutions slip away?
I think, one of the main reasons we fail is because many of us are not attaching an emotion to our goals. Often, we create goals because we think we need to or because we are feeling pressure to do so.
When we do this, we haven’t put the thought or steps in place on HOW we plan to achieve that goal.
When creating a new goal, I have found that when I come up with a WHY, I am more likely to stick to it.
Example One – “I want to work out 4-5 times a week because it makes me feel good, because I value my health, and because I don’t want to be a burden to my children or other loves ones as I age.”
Example Two – “I want to get that promotion at work because I want to prove to myself that I can take this role on, I want to be more financially stable and feel appreciated in my workplace.”
Creating a WHY allows you to tie an emotion to your goal. Feeling the WHY deeply is the motivation that could be needed to help you sustain those goals you set for yourself in the New Year (and throughout the year).
Another way to make your goals sustainable is to put systems in place to allow you to stay focused on your goal. The goal you set is the direction you want to head, the systems that you will put into place will determine your progress towards that goal.
Tips to creating long-lasting change
Eliminate some goals
- Pick the most important goal you have and focus on that. The more goals you have the more time and attention you’re spend trying to complete all of them. Instead, pick one and focus on that.
Stack your goals
- Research has shown that when we make a specific plan for when, where, and how we will perform our goals we are 2x-3x times more likely to stick with them. James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, explains this as habit stacking. It works well because we are creating a specific plan to implement our goals. We are attaching a new goal to an existing habit we do daily. An example would be:
- Water intake: Before I brew my morning coffee, I will have 8ox of water
- Working out: Before I shower in the morning, I will move my body for 20minutes.
- Gratitude: Before I eat dinner, I will say one thing I am grateful for that day.
Set an Upper Bound
- We always focus on the lower bound, the minimum threshold we want to hit. But, setting an upper bound has proven to be equally, if not more helpful for people when working towards their goals.
- Example: “I want to lose at least 5 pounds this month” but what we should be saying is, “I want to lose at least 5 pounds this month, but not more than 10.”
- The upper bound allows us to stay focused and committed to the goal we originally set instead of striving for more. It allows us to create the habits of showing up, which will create long term growth.
Align your Environment
- Create your environment to set you up for success.
- Example: You want to workout in the morning before work – set your workout clothes out before you go to bed, prep your workout area, get your water ready.
- Example: You want to read more before bed – keep your phone out of your room and place your book on your pillow.
- When you are creating goals attach a positive emotion to them. Imagine yourself reaching that goal, how do you feel? Hang on to that feeling.
- Write down your goals and keep track of them, focus on how far you have come and not how far you have left to go.
- Take the time to reflect on all that you have accomplished.