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Why You Shouldn't Make New Year's Resolutions

According to a recent Finder survey, it’s estimated that “188.9 million adult Americans (74.02% of the population) say they’re determined to learn something new, make a lifestyle change or set a personal goal in an effort to better themselves in 2021.” This is “a 15.17% increase from the previous year.”

What’s more, “141.1 million adult Americans — or 55.31% of all American adults — think that following through on their New Year’s resolutions is well within the cards.” In reality, though, 80% of New Year’s resolutions will fail by February.

Why? After all, the most popular categories are related to health, self-improvement, money, family, love, and career. All of which can help you become a better and healthier version of yourself.

The reason why so many people are unable to stay committed to their resolutions, according to Steve Errey in a Lifehack article, is because:

  • They’re all about what you think you should do. Resolutions, such as stop smoking or maintaining work-life balance “sound good on the surface, but typically a resolution is based on what you think you should be doing, rather than what you really want to be doing.”

  • Resolutions are like goals. Some resolutions are like goals in that they’re about getting more of something,” writes Errey. “The trouble is that goals – which have been pushed down our necks by the self-help industry for at least the last 20 years – rarely work.

  • There’s no motivation or commitment. Because “you’re taking something that doesn’t mean anything to you and trying to make it happen,” you’re less likely to follow through. “Resolutions lack a foundation of meaning and personal relevance that makes sure they run out of steam.”

  • The timing’s all wrong. Not only are you coming off the back of the holidays and getting back to the harsh realities of the world, but you see the whole of the year stretching ahead of you and summer’s a whole 6 months away,” adds Errey. That’s not always going to inspire you to stay dedicated.

Instead of making resolutions, consider other options. Marelisa Fabrega writing for Daring to Live Fully has ten alternatives that you might want to replace this year:

  • Create a bucket list for the New Year. These are the “things you want to be, do, and experience before turning a year older.”

  • Follow a monthly 30-day challenge. “Come up with a list of twelve 30-day challenges, and complete one for each month of the year,” says Fabrega. “What’s a 30-day challenge? A 30-day challenge consists of setting a small goal that can be achieved in 30 days, along with the specific action that you’ll be taking each day to achieve the goal.” Just note that it usually takes 66 days for a new habit to form, but a 30-day challenge can at least get you started.

  • Take a yearly challenge. An example would be learning how to speak a new language or save $1,000.

  • Create a list of things to look forward to. These are both small things, like a new book being released, to larger events like a family vacation.

  • Decide what to track or measure. Brainstorm “a list of things that you’re going to track or measure.” An example would be tracking your time to see how it’s being spent.

  • Decide on one-word for the year. “Pick a word to guide you throughout the year,” suggests Fabrega. “Why just one word? Because one word gives you clarity and focus.” Eventually, you should notice common threads. “Once you have these patterns and themes, boil it all down to the one word that encapsulates what you want for the year.”

  • Reboot an area of your life. For example, if you aren’t satisfied with your diet, then reboot it by going on a detox diet. “These are focused, short term diets that allow you to jump-start a weight loss program or help you to alter your eating habits,” adds Fabrega.

  • Take a life audit. “How are you doing in life? If you were to grade yourself in each of your life areas–relationships, work, finances, health, and so on–how would you do? What areas need improvement? What do you need to do to ‘raise your grade’?”

  • Take on a 365-day project. Here is when you would pick something to do every single day of the year. For instance, waking up at the same time every day.

  • Use New Year prompts. Examples include, “One habit I’m going to build this year” or “One person I’m going to spend more time with this year.”

Regardless if you try any of the alternatives above or not, stop making resolutions. Instead, focus on objectives that work. To achieve these, make sure that you:

  • Decide and commit to making a change.

  • Document what you want.

  • Get clear on the why.

  • Find absolute certainty and take action.

  • Measure your progress.

  • Keep going.

Most importantly, don’t make New Year’s resolutions just because it’s a tradition that everyone else is doing. “Instead, make confident choices based on what really matters to you, and jump in with both feet,” says Errey.

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