Let me guess: you want to exercise more in 2018, lose weight, or maybe just get healthier. Perhaps you want to learn a new skill, travel abroad or spend more time with family.
I know I do.
Self-improvement (or at least the desire for it) is a common theme across the globe each and every January. It’s why so many of us make New Year’s resolutions, vowing to turn over a new leaf and make this year the “best year yet”. We are inundated with gym membership offers, meal plan deals and wellbeing features – all spurring us on to be the best version of ourselves.
Let me ask you, can you remember what your resolutions were for 2017, and did you stick with them for the year or achieve the goals you set in place? Possibly not – and you are not alone. After a few weeks (or even days) the novelty wears off, the ‘New Year, New You’ enthusiasm fades into the background as real life gets in the way, and before you know it, you’re back to your usual routine. Perhaps you have found yourself with the same resolution year after year – almost becoming an annual tradition to make it, then break it. Statistics state 25% of people who make New Year’s resolutions give up after just a week and the majority have abandoned their goals by February, with only 8% of people sticking with their resolutions throughout the year. So where are we going wrong? Why do we continue to perpetrate this same routine year after year, setting ourselves up for multiple failures?
When it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions, most people shoot for the moon. This is apparent specifically with health goals in particular: we tend to opt for all-or-nothing (often restrictive) goals, based on unrealistic and possibly unachievable expectations. We promise ourselves that this will be the year we will give up carbohydrates for good; we will go to the gym every morning before work; we will drop three dress sizes… setting ourselves up for failure and disappointment, again and again. Often we have the best intentions but our hard efforts are derailed by small failures – a blip in the ‘good behaviour’ that weakens our motivation. While you might initially feel energised and inspired by setting huge, life-changing goals for 2018, the sparkle of these resolutions may fade quickly when we realise how difficult they are to stick to long term.
We look at reasons you should forget your New Year’s resolution:
You aren’t motivated
Just because it’s January 1st doesn’t mean you have to follow the crowd and present the ‘new you’. Many people make New Year’s resolutions because it’s the popular thing to do, or it’s expected in your circle. Perhaps sharing your goals for the year ahead on social media offers the first push to start a resolution, as you get support and encouragement, but once that initial pressure fades, so does the motivation to continue.
Try keeping your resolution to yourself, write it down and work on it privately. This type of goal derives from an intrinsic drive to do something positive for yourself, not to achieve the acceptance or praise from others.
Your resolution is just too big
Often our resolutions are long-term goals, that take serious perseverance and huge changes to your current lifestyle, making them more than challenging to achieve. Everyone should have goals they wish to accomplish over time, but piling on the pressure to achieve these goals overnight is unrealistic. It is easy to become quickly overwhelmed and realise that your resolution isn’t attainable in the immediate future.
Instead, don’t make these long term goals your New Year’s resolution, attempt smaller, more appropriate resolutions such as eating more fruit instead of refined sugar; walking to work instead of taking the bus once a week; reading a book this month. Small, incremental changes may feel less appealing, but they have a much greater chance of creating real change, improving your everyday life in subtle ways, while bringing you pleasure.
‘Decision fatigue’ is a phenomenon that correlates with ego depletion. It basically means that you start to lose your motivation in a decision (or resolution) as time goes on. This happens because your mental energy can’t sustain the same motivation you had when you first made a decision. In turn, you start to question your decision and try to find ways around it, creating excuses and losing self control.
Evidently this causes most people to give up on their New Year’s resolution. The January shine wears off with your motivation and self control weakens, before long your goal holds less importance to you. Here we need to acknowledge that it is extremely difficult to maintain a steady level of self-control for a long period of time. Don’t beat yourself up if you have a slip or an off day.
Is now the right time?
Setting goals and wishing to better ourselves are positive attributes, however it’s important to look at your current circumstance and lifestyle. Do you feel this is the appropriate time to make changes or put pressure on yourself? Forget New Year, everyday is a new day and a fresh start that offers the opportunity to hit the reset button – if January doesn’t feel right, choose a time that you can offer your commitment in full… mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually.