It’s that time again for the age-old tradition of beginning our New Year’s resolutions. The day before January 1 is rung in, everyone is clamoring to the stores to stock up on junk food, beverages of all kinds, and party supplies to ring in the “new year, new me” promise they had made a month or so prior. We all have that one thing we have been wanting to tweak, change, or transform dramatically and what better time to begin a new phase in our lives than the New Year?
Unfortunately, as the year progresses, we all start to remember we’re human and life gets in the way of us fulfilling our goals. Almost 50% of Americans form a contract with themselves to make a change in their everyday lives. A quarter of those Americans will fail every year, and barely 10% will achieve the goals they had set. Many of the same resolutions are set every year in hopes the person can overcome their self-defeat and try again.
Here are 10 New Year’s resolutions that usually fail within the first 6 months and how to avoid the failure.
10 Lose Weight
Once the holiday season begins to encroach on us, stress takes over and dining out occurs more often because of holiday shopping. January is the biggest month for gym memberships and people are racing to that treadmill or elliptical to shed those pounds. They want to feel the New Year dripping in the form of sweat from their brows. For the first couple weeks, an improvement is noticed. The first layer of fat has been shed and they’re feeling good and motivated. Then the plateau happens. Nothing is working, the pounds are sticking to their body like super glue, that one chocolate bar for a ‘job well done’ couldn’t make that much of a difference, can it? The answer is no. After the first 5-10 pounds are dropped, the next phase is keeping momentum. The pounds will fall off, just slower…like molasses.
9 Save Money
Whether you’re saving for a trip to an exotic vacation, a special gift for a loved one, or even a new outfit, the sacrifice is worth it! Many people abandon the plans because of the lack of instant gratification. When we see the amount slowly increasing, we may psychologically feel bothered for the minimal incline towards our goal. A common thought could be “What’s the use?” or “I have too many bills, I can’t waste money towards this.” Another common pitfall we fall into is setting a deadline for a large amount. Putting a dollar into your savings goal is still technically saving money. Another way to avoid the feeling of saving stagnation is to pay necessary bills first. Yes, by saving as much as possible quickly is great and if you’re able to, even better! However, if you’re not able to, at what cost are you ignoring your bills to save for a long-term goal? The point to saving is to reward yourself with what you were able to accomplish.
8 Quitting a Bad Habit
The most addictive drug in the United States is nicotine. It feeds our pleasure seeking part of the brain, calms stress, and can be accepted socially among our group of friends. Another bad habit that’s hard to kick is the party animal life. Friday and Saturday nights on the town with your best pals is a great way to relax after a rough work week or getting over a break up. Socialization ups your mood and forces you to avoid seclusion. If you want to cut back on the booze, this is going to sound like a colossal joke but, get a hobby, join a group, etc. It’s a positive outlet to meet new people in a non-toxic environment and a great way to destress that won’t potentially injure you. A few reasons why most people try and give up on these New Year’s resolutions is because of rationalization. They develop reasons why they should have one more cigarette, one more night out, or false promises of only smoking socially or drinking one weekend a month because of the social stigma you may receive.
7 Get Organized
Every year we stand and stare in disgust at that ghastly garage, attic in disarray or the guestroom that has turned into a catch-all room. We make that promise to finally get it all in order and feel more at home in our one house…and every year life happens and we get too busy on the weekends to get those tasks done. When we do have the time, we resort to inventing reasons not get it done because the idea of cleaning out an entire space can be overwhelming. Instead, we start cleaning the rooms we’re happy with and, you guessed it, throw the extra stuff in one of those already overcrowded rooms. Avoid the excuses and get it done for real this time!
6 Finish the Unfinished
Remember when we used to have those hobbies we could spend countless hours on and never get bored? Model airplanes or cars, arts and crafts projects, making blankets, painting, reading, etc. I can’t tell you how many books I have sitting on my bookshelf with bookmarks in them. The majority of them I don’t even remember where I left off. Instead, we resort to instant gratification activities such as movies, TV series, or brainless television while we play games on our phone. Revisiting the hobbies we once loved can be scary because what if we don’t remember how to do a certain stitch for that unfinished blanket you were making for your friend’s newborn baby who is now 5 years old, or what color you used for that model car you stopped painting. We psych ourselves out because relearning a hobby we used to love can seem like a daunting task. The great thing about hobbies is you can always start over. Who knows, maybe you’ll be better at a certain thing than you were when you first started, but there’s only one way to find out.
5 Learn a New Skill
Learning a new skill can go hand-in-hand with finishing the unfinished. Through finishing projects a person could learn new skills and further develop their craft. However, when the New Year comes, many want to learn a brand new skill like cooking, sewing, a language, or life-saving skills such as CPR. Many will end up shying away from setting aside the time to take the task under their belt because of the lack of instant gratification, looking dumb for not knowing on the first day, or possibly not knowing anyone in the group. Seeing noticeable results stem from our efforts is a natural need when trying new things; if we don’t see it, then it’s not working. Wrong! Learning a new skill like a language takes time, practice and patience. Many people will abandon their quest to pursue something more instant because something that takes time is not worth it. A way to avoid this is to pace yourself. Diving head first and immersing too much effort at once can create boredom or exhaustion.
We live in a highly saturated society where everything is or can be done through the internet. There was once a day when computers and advanced technology did not exist and we had to rely on talking face-to-face, walking to our destinations, reading an actual book with paper pages, or finding other activities that involved no electronics whatsoever. Many people start to feel drained like their cell phone batteries from all the sensory overload being received by bright and shiny screens. Therefore, another common New Year’s resolution is to unplug from electronics. Some may take this resolution and promise to only log on to social networks once a week, only read actual books or magazines, or make the weekends strictly electronics free. The downward slope starts to occur when you're peer pressured to “look” at a post or tweet and read an email sent by the family on your proclaimed electronics-free day. This one is quite difficult in our current technological state.
3 Pay it Forward
Giving back to the less fortunate is one of the most selfless acts someone could do. It not only makes someone else feel good, but it also provides an intrinsic reward for yourself to give back to your community. Abandoning a goal such as this one mainly stems from monetary reasoning: “I can’t buy anything to give to my local food pantry.” “I don’t have time to bring this stuff where it needs to go.” I’m not saying to dump your entire house into bins and send it off to goodwill, however there are items you can part with and more than likely after you bring it, you won’t even think about it again.
Perhaps start small: volunteer at a local soup kitchen, library, or food pantry. They are always looking for an extra set of hands to help with the day-to-day tasks.
2 Sustainable Living
Thrity years ago, living eco-friendly was not as popular or so much a cause for concern in society. However, with the millennials now becoming adults, they have introduced a more environmentally-aware sense of thinking to older generations and brought further into the light the impact we have on this Earth can have severe repercussions. Therefore, products such as energy saving bulbs and appliances have been developed, electric cars to lower emissions released into the atmosphere, and so on. When most people think of sustainable living, they think tree huggers and hippies. Fear of owning that label can cause people to push away from getting involved with those types of changes and implementing them in their lifestyle. When the New Year comes around, some may realize the “error of their ways” and want to make a change. Then they realize their favorite things they would need to give up in order to achieve their New Year’s goal and consequently quit. The main thought is “I’m only one person, it won’t make that much of a difference. Someone else can do it.” A way of avoiding this thought is by changing it. Instead, replace it with “I’m only one person, but I know others who can make a difference too.”
1 Live a Fuller Life
This is always a tricky one to comply with when making it your New Year’s resolution. Everyone loves vacations but the majority of us cannot afford to drop everything and run off to a foreign country and have a brand new unforgettable experience. Therefore, we plummet our brain into the “I’m too poor”, “I don’t have the time” frame of mind. As the year progresses, we lose sight of what has occurred over the past year and realize all we really did was work to pay bills and daydreamed about winning the lotto. Don’t make the same mistake this year! A lot of adventures you can have right in your own backyard. Visit a historic site with a group of friends, have a girls or a guys' night once a month to break up the family routine, go to an event you would normally say no to and see if it was worth saying no to, visit a museum, a park, etc. Unforgettable experiences are not just about where you go, but your attitude, who you’re with, and what you want to do when you get there. Your life is for you to fill, start planning past the six-month mark!
New Year’s resolutions are supposed to bring change and excitement. Many fear the changes and could develop an anxiety from not knowing how to implement that change. If further assistance is needed, there are always professionals available to help you through the process. Planning past the 6-month mark and having it in writing is always a better way to ensure a fail-proof plan. Whether you have a planner book or you use a calendar on your electronic device, utilize your resources to work for you, not you be a slave to them, and have a very New "You" Year!