Why do we struggle to keep to New Year’s resolutions? Here’s what to do differently

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Why do we struggle to keep to New Year’s resolutions? Here’s what to do differently

As the year comes to an end and the new one begins, we often look back with some level of criticism at what we’ve accomplished and set New Year’s resolutions – exercise more, eat well, dry January, change jobs, ditch the partner, write a book, have a baby, be more positive, etc. How long do these resolutions last? What’s your track record?

I’m sure there are plenty of people out there who do stick to their goals and achieve them with great triumph. I once worked with a young man who wanted to quit smoking and promised himself if he stuck to it for a year he would buy a Porsche (he was a heavy smoker). A year later he sent me a text message with a photo of his brand-new car… a Porsche.

Setting goals or resolutions at the start of the year is exciting. It gives us a boost of hope and possibility. In that moment we believe we’ll reach our dream weight or our desired fitness levels, or whatever else is on our list. We have a year ahead of us, a blank canvas ready to be filled with all our dreams. Life will be good, we tell ourselves, only to find that it all quickly falls away before it gets a chance to take off.

Why do we struggle to keep to New Year’s resolutions?

Because we are creatures of habit and old habits are hard to change. Although old habits are hard to modify, it is possible to achieve our desired outcomes with the right approach.

2021 has been as challenging as the lockdown year for us all. The pandemic struck hard, changing the way we live and socialise. Our routines, the way we work and shop, how children learn and how we can be with family and friends is different. Our old habits have been challenged, for some to the extreme. It would be easy to look back at the past year and believe we’ve been caught up in a nightmare.

Growth instead of Pledges

Instead of getting sucked into a vortex of failures and frustrations, I’d like to invite you to explore what were your disappointments for the past 12 months. Get a piece of paper, draw a vertical line down the middle to create 2 columns and write down what you’ve perceived to be your disappointments on one of the columns.

Then explore your achievements of the past 12 months. You may have not got a promotion or gone scuba-diving in Australia, but I bet there’s a lot you’ve done and accomplished. When we focus on the negatives it’s easy to bypass all the good bits.

Read your lists out loud, slowly, either to yourself, a friend or partner. What have you learnt from your achievements and disappointments? Pay particular attention to the learning part, there’s always something you can take away from what and how you’ve done something, even if it turned out different to what you originally expected. Explore the following questions:

  • What will you do differently over the next 12 months?
  • What will you continue doing?
  • What will you do less of?
  • What will you stop doing?

List three things you will start to do today to support your journey into 2022. Review it every day, week or month, each time adding another three things to your list and notice what changes.

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