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5 Reasons Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail…

And 5 Steps to Successfully Fulfilling Them

Source: iStock

There are only a few more days left in 2015, and it’s about now that we begin to recall our last year’s resolutions and – painful as it might be to admit – our failure to achieve them. What went wrong again? We were really determined to succeed this time last year, and yet not many boxes got ticked off on our lists. Why is it so difficult to follow through and reach our goals as we initially intended to?

Every one of us could come up with a number of explanations and excuses, but these can be actually boiled down to just a few points. Let’s take a look at the five most common reasons why last year’s good intentions didn’t bring the results that we were hoping for.The culprits are as follows, listed in no specific order:

  1. Your expectations were not realistic. It’s great to make resolutions that will challenge you a bit and allow you to grow and learn new things in the process, but taking on too much will only exhaust and dishearten you, making you more likely to give up. “I will go to the gym every day no matter what”, “I will lose 30 lbs in 30 days”, “I will quit all my bad habits for good” and “I will do it all at the same time” is just not going to happen. These are challenging resolutions on their own; each one of them requires great organization and commitment, and together they are just too much to undertake. It’s important to also realize that fulfilling some resolutions takes a long time and you will not be able to see the results right away, so be prepared for this investment of time and stay motivated until you have reached your goals.
  2. Your resolutions were not properly defined. “I want to travel more”, “I am going to be more responsible” and “I will do my job better” are not very good resolutions. They are too vague and don’t lead to a specific desired outcome. In order for them to yield results, your New Year’s resolutions, and any other goals that you might have, need to be S.M.A.R.T. (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound). Not only should you be able to define what you want to achieve, but you should also have a step-by-step plan of how you are going to get there and how you will benchmark your progress. Well-defined resolutions can set a solid foundation for your success later on.
  3. You didn’t have the right mindset. Wanting something and working towards getting it are two fundamentally different things. It can be difficult to focus on fulfilling a resolution when you are not in a good place in your life. For instance, last year you wanted to take on more responsibilities at work but your mind was constantly preoccupied with troubles at home, or you decided to quit smoking but didn’t make an effort to avoid temptations, so after a week’s time you relapsed into the old habits. If you are not mentally prepared for all the hard work, distractions, obstacles and setbacks that might be ahead of you, you will most likely fail.
  4. Your time management skills are lacking. Say you resolved to become more involved in the community by joining your local neighborhood association, regularly attending community meetings, and volunteering for a cause of your choice. You had a goal, a plan and the best of intentions. But then life got busy, and “go to the community meeting” got lost in one of your to-do lists, somewhere between the more pressing “walk the dog” and “get the groceries for dinner” items. Managing your time effectively is not about crossing all the entries off your to-do list; it is about knowing what your priorities are and getting the right things done first.
  5. You are living distracted. Even the most minor distractions slow you down, wasting your energy and time – consequently adding more stress to your everyday life – and keep you away from things that you really want. Distractions cause you to miss many opportunities in life. They make you feel busy and tired all the time, and frustrated at the lack of progress despite your best efforts. By eliminating unnecessary distractions from your everyday routines, you will be able to make time for things that really matter to you and get one step closer to fulfilling the promises that you made to yourself.

With 2016 – and its accompanying fresh set of resolutions – just around the corner, you need to get a sound game plan for reaching your objectives in the new year. Forget the failures of the past, and approach this year with only positive thoughts in mind. By following these simple five steps of the S.H.I.F.T Model™, you will be able to fulfill your New Year’s resolutions successfully and with greater ease:

  • Specify the desired outcome. What are your goals for this year? What does success mean to you? Maintain focus and be specific; instead of a long list of resolutions, stick with only a couple but make sure to define them clearly. Keeping in mind the S.M.A.R.T. goals principle, specify what the endpoint looks like to you and then work backwards to establish the steps you need to make to get there.
  • Highlight and categorize the obstacles. Be prepared for the stumbling blocks along your way. Remember that they can be both external (changes in the environment) and internal (changes in your attitude). Recognizing and categorizing the potential pitfalls will help you decide how to best spend your energy and resources on countering them.
  • Identify the human factor. Who can you rely on to hold you accountable to your resolutions? Whose company should you seek, and who might you want to keep away from, to ensure that you don’t stray away from your goals? The resolutions might be yours, but other people still play a great part in your achieving the desired outcome.
  • Find the alternatives. Things don’t always turn out as planned, so it’s a good idea to have a Plan B handy, just in case. Ask yourself how you are going to proceed if, for example, you face too many obstacles, or your priorities shift, or you lose your motivation, get overwhelmed, discouraged, etc. Think of these things beforehand so that you don’t make rash decisions under the influence of your emotions later on.
  • Take disciplined action. And discipline is the salient part of this last step. You are the one who is first and foremost responsible for your success. Conversely, making excuses and not holding yourself accountable for your actions is a sure path to failure. Remember that you are doing this to benefit yourself, so keep track of your progress and don’t let self-doubt or dwindling motivation jeopardize your resolve.
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