24 Jan Why you probably didn’t keep your new year’s resolution
A study from BUPA suggests that only 50% of people who set new year’s resolutions think they’ll actually be able to keep them. They are a time-honoured tradition, set by everybody from school-children to stockbrokers – but why are we so rubbish at sticking to them?
New Years Resolutions are a way for people to abandon the bad in their life, and make improvements. According to a YouGov poll, only 13% of people that set a New Year’s Resolution in 2017 achieved their goal. What were the top resolutions for 2018?
1. Eat better
2. Exercise more
3. Spend less money
4. Self care (such as get more sleep)
5. Read more books
These aren’t outrageous goals – in fact, they’re pretty realistic. It’s worth pointing out that most of the top five resolutions match up with the NHS’ guide for beating stress. January represents a new start and a promising year ahead, so it’s not surprising that people want to improve their wellbeing.
So why do so many people fail?
Why people don’t keep their resolutions
Most people set themselves a goal of giving up something bad. For many, that’s smoking, unhealthy food, reckless spending, or staying up too late. It’s not giving things up in the first place that’s so difficult: it’s staying away from them. When the #NewYearNewMe positivity wanes and the going gets tough, it’s a lot easier to focus on what you’re missing out on than what you’re gaining.
By the time February rolls around, we’re aching for unhealthy creature comforts but haven’t started to feel the benefits of giving them up yet. This feeling of sacrifice without the reward can spoil even the most sensible goal.
Another reason why people struggle to keep their goals is the goals themselves are unrealistic. The end of the year is a time for reflection, and with reflection comes the guilt and shame of acknowledging just how little we’ve exercised and how badly we ate. What does that lead to? Overcompensation – usually with lofty, but very unrealistic, new year’s resolutions. As a member of the ‘Next year I’ll go to the gym EVERY SINGLE DAY’ club, I’ve fallen foul of this myself. A trip to the gym just once a week would be 52x more than i went the previous year, but somehow it doesn’t feel ambitious enough.
Nobody can keep impossible goals. All that happens is good intentions fall to the wayside and the guilt of missing another resolution is all that’s left.
Tips for keeping your resolution
The only difference between a new year’s resolution, and a goal made at any other time of the year, is that a gym can’t run January promotions all year round. The most empowering thing you can do is free yourself from that mentality: resolutions should not live and die in January alone. We’ve compiled some of the best tips from friends and family to help you smash this year’s goals.
- Expect blips and deal with them
If people acted the same way towards their lives as they did towards their new year’s resolutions, nothing incredible would ever have been achieved. Be disciplined and work hard, but all is not lost if you fail once. Or twice. Or even three times. If you stumble, or feel like you’ve failed, start again and learn from what happened. One small failure is infinitely better than a completely abandoned goal.
- Set yourself stretch goals
Okay, this tip didn’t come from our families. In fact, we ‘borrowed’ it right from the internet. Platforms like Kickstarter have massive success with stretch goals. Companies set one, ambitious but realistic main goal, and then have a few smaller, harder to reach targets as well. This lets you set achievable goals, but also gives you great motivation to really knock it out of the park.
- Sprints, not marathons
We’re big fans of the phrase “It’s a marathon, not a sprint”, but short sprints are a fantastic way to keep focused. Break your new year’s resolution into 4 quarterly targets, and ‘sprint’ towards them. If something is too easy or too hard, then adjust your goal accordingly.
- 1% is better than 0%
Ambitious people often treat success as win or lose, live or die, yes or no. The truth is, this is a misleading way to look at your goals. If your resolution was to eat healthily, but you only managed to swerve cheeseburgers for half of the year – that’s 50% of the way there. That’s six, amazing (or horrible) burger-free months that would never have happened otherwise.
Keep your eyes on the bigger picture.
New year’s resolutions are a brilliant way of making a change for the better. 87% of people fail keeping in their resolutions, and we reckon a big part of that is people don’t get the credit they deserve. Our mission is to change that… just in a different kind of way.