Do New Year’s Resolutions Really Work?

Do New Year’s Resolutions Really Work?

The beginning of a year seems like the perfect time to start afresh. With celebrations all around, positivity is at an all-time high. It’s easy to make grand plans for self-improvement while in the moment, but just a few weeks down and the enthusiasm starts to wear off.

You’re not alone, studies show that the majority of people with New Year’s Resolutions—88% to be precise—are unsuccessful in their attempts. Does this mean we should all just give up and stop trying to change for the better? Of course not. We could, however, try going about it in a better way.

Start Small

We often set unrealistic goals and it’s one of the main reasons we fail to achieve them. By making big, bold resolutions, and too many of them, we’re setting ourselves up for disappointment. Keeping resolutions is about more than just wishful thinking. It takes time and energy and there’s a limit to how much of these resources we can supply. You’re probably not going to be able to “start a blog, volunteer at the local shelter, and learn Japanese” all while holding down a full-time job; and “get a beach body” might be difficult to do if you eat junk food and have never exercised before. Set goals keeping in mind what your life is like right now, and slowly build up.

Is there something you’ve always wanted to do? Try it for 30 days, says Matt Cutts.

Be Specific

Resolutions like “enjoy life to the fullest” are so broad and vague, you wouldn’t know where to start. Set a clear goal and if needed, break it down into smaller, actionable tasks, preferably with deadlines. This also allows you to keep track of your progress and stay motivated. It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the big picture so the key is to just focus on the next step. “Write 500 words by Friday” or “practice chords and fingerstyle for 15 minutes everyday” seems doable when compared to “write more” or “learn guitar”. Note down your goals or tell your friends and family—it makes things real and helps keep you accountable.

The best way to achieve your goals? Don't focus on them, according to Reggie Rivers.

Know Why

Many of us make resolutions for the wrong reasons, like when the new year comes around and we feel obliged to do so. But if you don’t have a good ‘why’ to begin with, it’s tough to keep up the excitement. Simply wanting something isn’t enough, it takes hard work and more importantly—persistence—so when you don’t believe in why you’re doing what you’re doing, you give up easily. Set goals that connect with you in an emotional and meaningful way. Is a daily yoga practice important to you because it improves your mood, or because it strengthens your body? Whatever the reason, it must mean something to you.

Simon Sinek illustrates this perfectly as he shares with us how great leaders inspire action.

A wise person once said, “the best way to get things done is to begin”. And you don’t have to wait for the perfect time. Positive change is an ongoing process that shouldn’t be reserved for just one day out of the year. Imagine if we treated every moment of every day with the same reverence as we do new year’s day… What would you resolve to do?

Words by Kathleen Varghese, Content Contributor for TEDxTownsville