Why most New Years resolutions fail

Here we go again. Every year the same.

It’s not even the end of January, however, sticking to your New Year’s resolutions is like an old piece of chewing gum stuck to your shoe. At most, it’s annoyingly nagging in the back of your mind that you should do something about it.

But as it is, you don’t. Actually, you’re even thinking why you made these stupid New Year’s resolutions – again. It seems like you can’t even remember which horse you rode back then. Maybe your girlfriend was ogling your belly, or your bank account seems more like a desert than an ocean, or maybe it was your mom who threatened you that she wants grandkids before she kicks the bucket.

But, like last year, well, the year before, and the year before that…. It’s always the same game’s result: you lose. But not only that, it’s also a torture of your belief system. You, who also swore your resolutions into the sky on New Year’s, cannot seem to make it to February. February! That’s 31 days, well, 30, as we all start on January 2nd with this type of self-torment.

But I can soothe you a bit before it hits you too hard: you are not alone. In fact, more than 80% give up on most of their New Year’s resolutions before the end of January.

But what if you really want to make it happen?

What if you need to make them happen?

But why can’t you just stick to those – damn them – good intentions?

The answer is quite simple. You need to become the person who does these things naturally. Then, you don’t need to fight beasts, torture yourself with self-discipline, or experience that nagging feeling which brings you guilt.

To make it more practical: Instead of vowing once a year that you will magically become a better person because the year increases by one, you need to work on crafting a new identity over time. Because, quite frankly, creating a new identity is a continuous effort.

I know, I know. It sucks that it’s not a one-time magic pill and then all is just set and done. However, see it from the positive side. If you change your identity along the way, you will never again have to set (and break) New Year’s resolutions – again. That’s quite something, isn’t it? Oh, yeah, and you really get a nice side effect. You reach your initial goal.

So, how do you change your personality – how do you craft a new one?

Step 1: Crafting a your new identity. We can either imagine who we want to be, what we want to feel, where we want to live, how we interact with others, what our values are, or we can look around us and see what we admire and appreciate in others and make it our goal to adapt these into our core – into our identity. But we need to make sure rather to identify the underlying value, idea, or trait than to focus on the superficial outcome.

Step 2: Creating an execution plan. We need to start small enough to not feel overwhelmed but also big enough to see results quickly to stay motivated. The plan’s intensity should grow over time. A continuous effort needs to be made to incorporate your desired trait into your personality.

Step 3: Acknowledging results. Review yourself along the way to see how you have changed. To do this, document your steps and feelings in a journal.

For example, one of my clients wanted to feel more freedom in her life. One of her traits was that she was very accommodating to the demands of her family and friends. She wanted to make everything fine for them, despite suffering and often not enjoying it at all. She admired in other people that they can say “no.” So, we made a “saying no” plan for her to reach a higher level of freedom. We elaborated on the current inconvenient situations (easiest first), analyzed the counterparts (low risk of rejection first), and practiced options for how to say no (write no first). Over time, it became more and more natural to her. It became a part of her Self, her identity. And as such, she became bolder and was able to experience more freedom. It became such an integral part of her that she almost forgot how she struggled when we started to work together.

Now, one may say that this is a kind of resolution. Yes, it is, but it is not bound to half-hearted New Year vows. Others may say that it is not the same as losing weight. Well, in fact, it is. It is just from a different angle: if you want to lose weight (above freedom), you will need to become a healthy person (a “no-sayer”). For that, you need a good plan and to execute it until it becomes part of your identity. Your goals will be to become a healthy person. And as a healthy person, you will have a healthy weight.

And that’s it: the secret.

I know it’s not as easy as taking a magic pill, but it’s sustainable.


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