Updated: Dec 3, 2021
The new year is a special and exciting time because we are inspired and driven to make positive changes in our lives. New Year's resolutions, on the other hand, can be difficult to keep. More than half of those who make New Year's resolutions fail to keep them. Have you ever wondered why so many of these resolutions fail by the end of February?
Why do New Year's Resolutions fail too often, and how to keep your new year resolutions for the coming year instead of giving up completely. The first step toward avoiding failure or giving up is to understand WHY we fail or give up in the first place. In this post, we'll share 9 tips for sticking to your goals and habits in 2022, so your resolutions become a reality rather than a distant memory. This is the year to achieve your goals!
Here are some of the reasons we give up:
We set unrealistic resolutions. One big impediment is the tendency for people to make New Year's resolutions that do not reflect what they truly desire. People often don't make their resolutions specific enough, they're worded too negatively, and they're not relevant to the individual. Setting imprecise goals or resolutions makes it simpler to give up or walk away from the endeavor.
We overwhelm ourselves. Slow and steady behavior change isn't sexy and attractive, but it's far more effective than the "I want it ALL and I want it NOW!" mentality. Smaller changes are more likely to persist because they are less daunting (if done correctly, you will barely notice them!).
We fail to set up systems for success, AKA habits. Many of us are unaware that our results have almost nothing to do with the goals we established and almost everything to do with the systems we followed. A goal is a defined target that you will either attain or not attain in the future. What is waiting to be achieved someday, is a goal. A system is anything that is done on a regular basis that increases the odds of overall happiness in the long run. What is done every day, is a system. A goal is a desired outcome, and a system is a process that produces those desired outcomes. The system is the practice, while the goal is the performance. If you're an entrepreneur, your goal might be building a million-dollar business. Your system is the means by which you test product ideas, hire employees, and run marketing campaigns. Goals are good for setting a direction, but systems are best for making progress. A handful of problems arise when you spend too much time thinking about your goals.
“You do not rise to the level of your goals. You fall to the level of your systems.” ― James Clear
We get busy and allow other things to take priority. It's easy to let a day, week, or month pass without making any progress toward your goals if you don't plan the specifics of what you're doing when you're doing it, how you're going to accomplish it, and so on. Without any milestones to look forward to, December may arrive and you'll wonder where the year has gone.
We focus on the WHAT instead of the WHY. The most common reason that most New Year's resolutions fail is that you know what you want but don't know why you want it. Let go of any preconceived assumptions and stay genuine to yourself. The more detailed your goal, the more vivid it will be in your imagination, the more encouraged you will be, and the more likely you will succeed.
We don’t have an accountability structure to help you sustain change. The world has evolved. Do-it-yourself has replaced do-it-together. As technology advances, we become more and more siloed. Isolation under quarantine hasn't helped. It is significantly more difficult to make progress if you do not have a supportive network to help you in achieving your goals. It can feel like you're swimming upstream. We miss out on the power of accountability when we convince ourselves that we can "do-it-ourselves." When you find someone or a group to accompany you on your habit journey, you are far more likely to succeed in more ways than you may realize.
Now that we've established that, let's talk about how to set yourself up for success in sticking to your new year's resolutions and goals in 2022.
Build trust with yourself. If you have internal trust issues, that is not a solid foundation you can build upon. "Do you keep promises to yourself?" is the first question you should ask yourself. If you're the type of person who makes a promise or commitment to yourself and then breaches it, you've probably lost trust in yourself. We are only as good as the words we speak to ourselves. When you fail to keep promises you made to yourself, you lose trust, your self-esteem suffers, and you eventually stop believing in yourself. To earn that trust, you must start keeping the promises you make to yourself. Follow through on the things you say you'll do.
Only make promises that you know 100% you will keep
Prioritize and focus down. Often, we establish too many goals and then try to tackle them all at once in January. We believe it is possible to form ten new habits immediately. If you truly want to make a difference, begin with the most important goal or resolution. One at a time. Do what you can. When deciding how much to take on, be practical. Don't overcommit yourself or you'll get overwhelmed and give up. Start small, focus on one key goal at a time, and progress slowly. It's fine to aim for a challenge, but remember to aim for long-term sustainability. For example, consider eating just plant-based for the first ten days of 2022. 10 days is a time range you are confident you can do, but it will also serve as a minor challenge to give yourself a little push.
Make it extremely easy to do. Making your resolution simple will help you keep your promise to yourself. Ask yourself, what is the most doable version of my resolution that I am 100% convinced I can commit to? Maybe it's working out once a week or once a month. It may sound trivial and unattractive, but that is the point. Begin with a routine you can follow and then add more as you gain confidence. The goal is to establish a habit that you can rely on.
Be specific & break it down. Sometimes we make resolutions that are too vague, and we don't know how to follow through on them. Your resolution should be specific, actionable, and measurable. Suppose you decide to eat healthier. It's ambiguous and might imply different things to different people. A better way to tackle this resolution is to break it down and be very specific about how you want to eat healthier. It may also be helpful to ask the following questions about your resolutions: how, what, where, when, and why. So you have more details to make them a reality. Instead of saying, "I want to eat healthier," you may say, "On Sundays, I will go grocery shopping and meal-prep healthy meals." Or, "I'll go vegetarian on Mondays." "I will eat at least one fruit per day," for example.
Take a small action TODAY. We typically make goals but then procrastinate on achieving them. We let these resolutions float around in our heads but never implement them. We think a lot more than we act. Take little steps TODAY. Because ANY action is better than none. After breaking down your resolutions into smaller steps, make it a point to get started right away. Action creates momentum. Even a modest move in the right direction can inspire you to keep going, to accomplish more, and to make greater progress towards your goal.
Giant leaps begin with small steps
Reduce friction between you and your goals. Friction is defined as everything that prevents you from carrying out your resolutions. "What is preventing me from following through on this resolution?" What normally gets in my way? "What are my usual excuses?" Then you can ask, "How can I assist in removing or relieving those barriers?" It can sometimes be as simple as keeping reminders of your resolutions and intentions in plain sight. Setting out your training clothing the night before, for example. Keep a book in your backpack to remind you to read when you have free time. Alternatively, you may just place reminder notes in strategic locations. Learn how to navigate from your current state to your desired state.
Keep trying and don't stop at failure. Resilience is the single most important factor that distinguishes successful people from unsuccessful people. To succeed at keeping your resolutions, you must keep trying and picking yourself up when you stumble. It is inevitable to fail while trying something new, taking a risk, or advocating for change. Only if you stop at failure will you actually BE a failure. However, if you view failure as merely a glitch to be overcome, you will be able to endure and eventually succeed. Patience, perseverance, and resilience are essential. It's fine to fall, but just get back up and keep going.
“Don’t be afraid to fail at things that mean something. Be afraid to succeed at things that mean nothing. “― Alexander Den Heijer.
Reevaluate & let go of goals that no longer align with you. Decluttering your life—not only physically, but also mentally—is one of the simplest things you can do. Take some time to ponder and re-evaluate what is and isn't working in your life. What goals are still relevant, and which would you let go of? It is not about giving up; rather, it is about re-evaluating your priorities and what is most important to you, and then letting go of what no longer serves you. Use this time to re-evaluate your new year's resolutions and keep only those that are aligned with your values and are essential to you.
Be gentle with yourself. Last but not least, remember to be patient with yourself. Don't be too hard on yourself or beat yourself up if you don't meet your lofty ambitions. Change and growth are both processes. Don't try too hard, and don't expect perfection. Accept your flaws and celebrate any progress you make. Acknowledge your small wins. You should be able to enjoy the journey as it unfolds, appreciating the process of learning, evolving, and redefining yourself, rather than living for an imagined future. Remember that you are evolving over time, and while it may not be visible on a daily basis, you are doing so for the long game. You'll be surprised at how much you've grown over the course of a year. There is no such thing as a finish line when it comes to habit building. So, moderate your expectations, make a plan, and take it slowly. It's your race, and you set the pace.
"The day you plant the seed is not the day you eat the fruit. Be patient and stay on course."―Febienne Fredrickson
The secret to sticking to your resolutions is to include self-compassion in your goal-setting process. Too often, setting goals leaves us feeling ashamed if we are ruthless with ourselves, set too many goals, and fail to ensure that our goals are aligned with our whys. You are the composer of your own life, and you can do whatever you want with it - but don't put too much pressure on yourself. Do what you can and assess what works and what doesn't. As humans, we are constantly bombarded with creative ideas for what to make or how to accomplish things, but our perfectionist side prevents us from acting on them, and our fear of criticism prevents us from taking the next step. So, in 2022, let's quit overthinking things and just do it. Don't let others define your definition of "success." Get up, learn the necessary skills, and go for it; the keys to a happy life are in your hands.
Don't allow your true purpose to slip through your fingers. It is never, ever too late to pursue your passion. Resist the impulse to run away from what scares you. So, what is preventing you from sticking to your new year's resolutions? Is it procrastination, a lack of motivation, a lack of accountability, or something else? Learning how to unlock your self-discipline, willpower, and how to construct a fool-proof plan is the key to mastering the art of habit change. Check out Sustainable Habits Masterclass to learn how to establish the methods and tools that will help you *finally* stick to your habits for life.