Tomorrow, June 1, we’ll be halfway through 2017. Reality check time. How are you doing with that New Year’s resolution of yours? Is it a bit dusty? Did you toss it in the recycling bin back in February to save it for next year?
If so, you’re in good company. Approximately 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February, according to U.S. News and World Report. Only 8 percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions achieve them, according to Forbes.
So how are you doing? Are you part of the 80 percent or the 8 percent? If you’re still going strong, congrats! Keep it up. If you’re part of the 80 (or maybe you made it at least through March or April but are now starting to waver), don’t get discouraged. It’s not December 31st yet. There’s still time to pick yourself up and get back to work.
And there’s the rub…work.
When people set resolutions they’re setting a goal to change something about themselves. Maybe they set an action goal, such as exercising, or set an outcome goal, such as losing 20 pounds.
What often happens, in either case, is that people underestimate the burden of change. Remember the adage, “easier said than done”? Holds true here. It’s easy to say, “I’m going to exercise five days out of every week in 2017.” Or “I’m going to lose those last pesky 10 pounds.” But doing it and maintaining it, that’s hard, sometimes really hard.
It’s hard work to change a habit. And that’s what New Year’s resolutions are doing, changing habits. Changing habits is made harder if you set an outcome goal without identifying the daily action or actions needed to achieve it. And harder still if your goal isn’t strongly rooted in a “why”.
To achieve your resolution, or any change, most advise setting action goals because you control your actions. You do not control outcomes. Dreaming of an ideal outcome can be a great motivator, but it needs to be coupled with little action goals to get you there. The beauty of this is, actions goals not only help you pave the path toward your desired outcome, but they also give you small wins along the way. Win-win.
As for the “why”, you need to know why you want something. Change is work. You can’t escape that. Often that work involves emotional growth that is quite challenging. You have to be willing to go there. If you don’t, you risk temporary fixes instead of lasting change. That’s where the “why” comes in. If you’ve accurately identified it, it will be so powerful that it gets you through the moments of self-doubt or exhaustion or fear; it will get you through the moments you want to quit.
Ok, so you’re ready to recommit to yourself. Now what? Well, really commit. Write your goal down. Is it an outcome goal? Can you really control whether you achieve that outcome? If not, consider an action goal(s) that you can control.
Write that down. Put that piece of paper somewhere you will see it at least once daily. Now, share your goal with one or two trusted individuals. These are the people who will believe in you when you can’t believe in yourself, who won’t let you quit on yourself.
Now, break that goal up into 6 chunks, one for each of the remaining months in 2017. Now break those into smaller chunks, maybe one for each week of each month. Write those down and be sure you can see them regularly too.
Lastly, figure out your small and big rewards. It’s important to celebrate all your triumphs. Try to keep food or drink out of it. It’s important to disassociate food and drink with rewards and punishment. Maybe you’ll treat yourself to a massage or a new workout outfit, or a weekend getaway. Whatever it is, try to tie it back to your why. These feelings of success will help motivate you through the remaining days, weeks and months.
Many say it takes six months to move into the “maintenance” phase of a new behavior, such as exercise or eating healthier. If you can get through the next six months, you’ll be part of the 8 percent that it starting 2018 off with a bang!