I am that sucker who regularly makes New Year’s resolutions and then doesn’t keep them. Or perhaps keeps them, but poorly. Or abandons them entirely from February through June, picks them back up for a month or two, and then throws caution to the winds until late December, when I set the same resolution all over again.
I am not alone here. Around 50 percent of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, according to John Norcross as quoted in Psychology Today. That’s a lot of people, and it’s depressing (or perhaps reassuring) to discover that of that 50 percent, only 8 percent of those actually make it, according to Forbes.
So what’s the deal? Are people setting the wrong resolutions? Do they not really want the change they profess to desire so strongly? Or are humans just fundamentally weak-willed lamos who are usually going to fail in tough goals?
I’d like to believe that is not the case. Research does indeed suggest that smaller resolutions are more effective. Off the top of my head, the only resolution success story I’ve heard lately is that of a particularly garrulous friend of mine who decided to wear more hats. So smaller ambitions may be more effective.
Another article by Forbes, entitled “Five Ways to Make Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick,” suggests reframing your resolutions as goals. Because even the word “resolution” tends to achieve gigantic and nebulous proportions that can leave people feeling overwhelmed, and because people understand how to break down goals more easily, chances of following through increase considerably.
Among the recommendations are to choose one small goal instead of many, write down your goal and set action commitments (i.e. “I will … ”), get a friend involved, and reward yourself appropriately along the way. If all else fails, just skip the resolution making and glean what you can from the video “Your New Year’s Resolutions, As Demonstrated by Cats.” It may be the best thing you do all year.