It’s January again—that period of time when everyone sets epic and ambitious resolutions for changing their lives.
But as explained in a 2013 Forbes article, only about 8 percent of people who set New Year’s Resolutions are typically successful.
Only 8 percent. That means 92 percent of New Year’s Resolution-ers typically give up on their ambitious plans by the end of the year.
The following are 5 Reasons why the majority of us typically fail to make our New Year’s goals a reality—5 Reasons Why We Give Up On Our New Year’s Resolutions:
#1- Using Sheer Willpower To Change Your Life Is A Flawed Strategy
We often think about success as an achievement that requires lots of willpower. But contrary to popular belief, using sheer power of will to accomplish your goals Is A Flawed Strategy for changing your life.
Because human willpower is a finite resource that gets weaker and weaker the more you use it. That means the more you use up your willpower, the less power of will you have left over to resist temptations to give up in the future.
TED Speaker Shawn Achor describes “WHY WILLPOWER IS NOT THE WAY” in his book The Happiness Advantage:
Anyone who has tried to maintain a strict diet has experienced this failure of willpower. We deny and deny ourselves until all of a sudden we can’t take it anymore, and the floodgates break. Five successful days of carrot sticks and tofu wedges are followed by a pizza binge or a feast fit for five. . . . The more we attempt to ‘stay strong,’ the harder we eventually fall—usually right into a tub of Ben & Jerry’s. The point is that whether it’s a strict diet, a New Year’s resolution, or an attempt at daily guitar practice, the reason so many of us have trouble sustaining change is because we try to rely on willpower. We think we can go from 0 to 60 in an instant, changing or overturning ingrained life habits through the sheer force of will. . . . The reason willpower is so ineffective at sustaining change is that he more we use it, the more worn-out it gets.
So as you’re coming up with your New Year’s Resolutions for 2016 over the next couple of weeks, try keeping in mind that Using Sheer Willpower To Change Your Life Is A Flawed Strategy.
#2- Setting Vague Or Unrealistic Goals
When goal-setting, it’s always best to shoot for the stars—aim high. But with that being said, you also always want to be as specific and realistic as possible when setting your New Year’s Resolutions. Because being specific and realistic about how, when, and where you want to accomplish your resolutions makes them ten times more likely to come true.
So don’t aim to “lose some weight.” Aim to “lose five pounds every three months until the end of 2016.” Don’t aim to “hit the gym more often.” Aim to “hit the gym at least four times every week from now until December 2016.” Don’t set out to earn your first billion dollars. Set out to accomplish something more realistic like earning fifty or one hundred thousand dollars by the end of 2016.
You have got to be as specific and realistic as possible. Because if not, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
#3- Failing To Ask People To Hold You Accountable To Your Resolutions
It’s much easier to give up on a goal that you haven’t told anyone about than a plan that the whole world is expecting you to accomplish.
If you don’t tell anyone about your New Your Year’s Resolutions to quit smoking cigarettes, to stop eating chocolate, to quit spending five hours per day on Facebook, or to start reading two books per month, then giving up on your goal is going to be incredibly easy for you. Because no one will be there to hold you accountable to your resolution.
It’s no big deal to give up on a goal that you haven’t told anyone about. But if all of your friends and family are holding their breath waiting for you to finish writing your first book, launch your first business, or lose twenty pounds, giving up will cease to be an option.
It’s human nature.
Disappointing other people—especially people that are close to us—is naturally never a fun experience for anybody. Disappointing people is not fun.
Disappointing yourself isn’t too painful—if no one ever finds out about it. But failing to achieve what you publicly promised you were going to accomplish on the other hand—public failure—is traumatizing and embarrassing. Because nobody enjoys embarrassment.
That’s why Failing To Ask People To Hold You Accountable To Your Resolutions is one of the biggest Reasons Why We Give Up On Our New Year’s Resolutions.
If you want to have any chance of staying true to your resolutions, you have got to announce your 2016 goals to other people. Knowing that other people are expecting you accomplish your plans is going to make it ten times harder for you to quit.
#4- Creating Positive Habit Change Is Hard. It’s Never Easy
Have you ever made a vow to yourself that you were going to quit drinking alcohol, run a mile every single day of the week, write 5 pages of your first book everyday, stop eating cake, stop eating meat, quit smoking cigarettes, or deactivate your Facebook account?
Quitting those habits that we’ve become accustomed to is never easy is it?
According to The Power Of Habit by Charles Duhigg, positive habit-change is a struggle because once a habit is accepted by our brains, it remains ingrained in our minds as a routine pattern of behavior until we make an effort to change it.
That means as soon as you fall into a routine, that habit is automatic. And it’s going to be a part of your life until the day you make a strong effort to change it.
To make things even worse, the negative habits we tend to struggle with the most are usually habits that we actually love or enjoy—people, places, activities, or foods that we don’t want to let go of.
And on top of that, there’s always a possibility that some of your friends, family, peers, or colleagues might disagree with your new direction in life. And if that’s the case, facing resistance from close ones who disagree with your new direction is going to make quitting your negative habits ten times more of a struggle than it already is.
Creating Positive Habit Change Is Hard. It’s Never Easy
And here’s one more reason why.
#5- Comfort Is Easier Than Change
How many times in your life have you felt like heading to the gym but decided to sit on the couch and continue watching T.V. instead; felt like doing schoolwork but decided to aimlessly browse through social media instead; or felt like eating a salad but decided to eat a burger with fries like you always do? How many times in your life have you picked the path of least resistance simply because it was easier than what you actually wanted to do?
That tendency to choose the path of least resistance—the choice that requires the least amount of effort from us—is human nature. No matter how badly or desperately we want to change ourselves, better our lives, and accomplish our goals, human nature tends to nature drags us into settling for the most comfortable option rather than putting in the effort, sacrifice, and determination needed to pick the right path.
Research findings from Positive Psychology—a field of research that studies what makes life great and offers science-based principles on how we can all improve our lives—show that although we generally spend much more time on sedentary activities that require less energy like watching television, we actually find much more enjoyment and fulfillment in active, engaging, and challenging activities that require more effort from us.
We enjoy mentally and physically stimulating activities much more than sitting around watching T.V. But we tend to choose watching television over reading, jogging, playing sports, playing board games, playing instruments, or visiting new places because it’s easier than putting in the necessary effort to do what we actually want to do.
Sticking with those comfortable, easy, and habitual unhealthy habits that we’re accustomed to is much easier than picking ourselves up off of the couch, putting on our gym clothes, and heading out to accomplish what we actually want for ourselves. Sticking with those negative habits that we’re comfortable with is much less painful than breaking the cycle and putting in the dedication required to accomplish our New Year’s Resolutions.
Comfort Is Easier Than Change.
But just because there are lots of Reasons why you might fail to make your New Year’s Resolutions Come True, does not mean that you should give up on making new changes to your life in 2016. There are lots of reasons why you could fail. But there are also lots of strategies you can use to get around those reasons.
So make sure to stay tuned to MuchokiMotivation for tomorrow’s blog post about 5 Ways To Make All Of Your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions Come True. And don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list for weekly updates!