How are your New Year’s resolutions going?

How are your New Year’s resolutions going? It’s been a few weeks since that particular time of year where we stop and think about our life and how we want to develop ourselves. If you thought about how you want to evolve in 2015 what were the areas that you felt needed some energy and focus? 

If you read any of the multitude of articles about ‘common New Year’s resolutions’ you may identify with some of these most popular goals: get organised, lose weight, spend less and save more, stay fit and healthy, learn something new, enjoy life more, spend more time with friends and family.

At the risk of putting a downer on this, it’s worth noting that the majority of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions within a very short period of time. I was reading a study in the Journal of Clinical Psychology which stated that only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolution. It seems that setting these particular resolutions are a waste of time for the vast majority.

With this in mind, I ask the question - why is it that so many people are unsuccessful at this? Maybe a better question to ask is: If you are someone who has traditionally failed with your New Year’s resolutions why do you think you failed?

When we start to explore these types of questions we can learn where we have gone wrong in the past with setting up our development and how we can improve this process to give ourselves a better chance of succeeding in the growth we want.  One of the big reasons I think people are unsuccessful in sticking with and achieving their New Year’s resolutions is due to the time of year and the place that they are doing it. 

During the holiday season we are outside of our everyday routine and we suddenly have the luxury of time to think about our lives. This is often accompanied with a mind space that is less stressed and more relaxed and so we can approach these tougher questions with enthusiasm. This enthusiasm can be a problem because we can become over ambitious and plan without awareness of the hurdles we often face in our daily life.

The questions we explore within ourselves during the new year period are important ones to consider in our life, so the fact that for the majority of people no real action comes from them feels like a lost opportunity. These big questions are the ones that have the ability to help us see where we want and need to change. 

Taking this into consideration, I’m going to suggest a shiny new New Year’s resolution for you (for the 92% who don’t follow through). Instead of aiming for a dramatic outcome focused change why don’t you make it your goal to schedule a time once a week where you reflect on some of these harder questions that create awareness about yourself and lead to the change you want. If we think of a sports analogy, top athletes constantly review their performance in practice and in game play, by doing this they can make small adjustments to their actions which leads to continual improvement. If you commit to a time once a week where you looked at your current self and review where you could make small improvements do you think you would be sitting more inline with where you want to be by the end of this year? 

When creating a habit like this you want to make it enjoyable not a chore that seems like hard work. You could get up on a Sunday morning, put your favourite music on, make a hot drink and work through a process where you review your week and future think the next week. You are looking to create a highlight in your week so make sure you use everything you know about yourself and make it enjoyable. 

Ultimately, the change we aim for, often in our New Year’s resolutions, are important to us. We do think our lives could be better if we could create change in a certain area. So instead of being one of the 92% who never quite get there, try an approach like the one I suggest. Constantly review and refine your behaviours throughout the entire year, and maybe you’ll get to the end of the year in a better place within yourself.


This piece orginally appeared in The Press


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Bevan Eyles