This is that wonderful time of year when like most people we all start to ponder and reflect upon our lives with 2015 steadily falling behind us. We look at ourselves, decide what we would we would like to change, do more of and ultimately we start out the new year with great aspirations. Many of us have been there and then that sparkle of enthusiasm fades. I wanted to seek out some statistics on this subject and see where my own attempts for change fit with the rest of my fellow Americans.
I consulted with a wonderful post from the Statistic Brain Research Institute (SBRI) regarding New Year’s Resolutions made for 2015.
Did you know that only 45% of Americans make a New Year’s Resolution and that 38% of Americans never do? I found this somewhat surprising. What is really interesting is that out of those of us who do set New Year’s Resolutions not many of us stick with it for the long haul. Only about 46% of resolutions make it beyond 6 months and only about 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolution.
So what kinds of things do people resolve to change or improve?
Health, fitness and personal growth all rank in the top 10 from 2015 as well as financial stability, getting organized and spending time with and helping others.
These all seem like they are focused on the right things so why do we get so discouraged?
Some of our lack of success can be brain/behavior oriented. Trying not to do something can actually strengthen your brain’s desire and your behavior to do that thing you resolved not to do.
We can also attribute setting unrealistic goals and expectations as another factor for why we don’t often succeed at our resolutions.
Sometimes we can also get discouraged when that one thing we resolved to do like finding that new job or reducing your debt doesn’t result in the overall happiness or change we expected.
So how can we be successful at change? How can we succeed at New Year’s Resolutions?
- Make sure you have the right goal, choose your path wisely. Is your current weight really what is bothering you the most about your life right now? or is it that maybe you have lost touch with important relationships with friends and family? or is it that the stress in your work life is more than it should be? Sometimes your weight may be just a symptom of other areas of your life being unbalanced. Focusing on your weight as a goal may actually cause you to not get to the heart of what is making you unhappy.
- Keep it small, and take small measurable steps. Be realistic. If your goal is to start an exercise program because you have not been exercising regularly. Start doing a physical activity you love 30 minutes a day 3 times a week. Do you love to walk? Pop over to your favorite park or walk at lunch time with a friend or colleague. Just remember it all counts towards your goal.
- Focus on the present, what can you do towards your goal today? If your goal is improving your connection with friends and family how about making that phone call to your brother today? or how about spending a little one on one time with one of your children just because?
- Celebrate, celebrate, celebrate. Remind yourself every time you are working towards your goal that you are making progress.
- Share your goal with a buddy or someone close to you that will provide encouragement and accountability. Let them know how much meeting the goal means to you and how much you want to succeed.
- Reflect about how working towards your goal makes you feel and how even the small changes you are making are affecting your life. Are you feeling more connected with friends and family? Is your exercise routine getting easier?
- Don’t beat the crap out of yourself. You are not a failure if you did not exercise 3 times this past week, or you only lost 9 pounds in 60 days instead of 12. We are often the first ones to point out our own failures and dwell on them. Remind yourself of the progress you have made so far and continue working towards your goal. Realize that occasionally we may slip but that doesn’t mean we have to give up on ourselves and what is important to us.
- Lastly, set goals throughout the year, personal growth, health and change is incremental and continuous!
Remember to enjoy the journey along the way. You only have one life to live, make it yours.
Happy New Year!