Resolutions: Everyone makes one, but not many people stick with it. In fact, 80 percent of resolutions fail by February. That’s a shocking statistic, but it doesn’t mean you can’t be successful. The reason this number is so high is because people aren’t making resolutions—they’re just checking a box. “I’ll do this” or “I’ll do that”—it’s meaningless and lacks critical pieces of a successful resolution: specificity, milestones and more.
Instead of focusing on how to make your resolutions stick, we want to remind you why they’re likely to fail. Avoid these pitfalls to be more successful and feel like champion as one of the 20 percent of people who see their resolution through to success.
1. You don’t actually care
If you’re making a resolution just to keep up with your friends or impress your parents, it’s guaranteed to fail—even if you think you want it: “Wanting something and working toward getting it are two fundamentally different things,” suggests Beverly D. Flaxington, contributor for Psychology Today. If you don’t actually care about or want it, you won’t be ready to make the sacrifices needed to see your resolutions through.
To find meaningful resolutions, check out these free downloadable worksheets from The Happiness Planner. They’ll help you define your “why” which makes resolutions meaningful, and therefore more successful:
- 2017 Reflection: General
- 2017 Reflections: Highs, learning and grateful for
- 2018 Vision Board: Planner
- In 2018 I Will…: Planner
These worksheets make it easier to remember what you did last year and where you want to improve before putting into words how you plan to do that. A little guidance can be helpful in forming resolutions that you care about, and these simple worksheets are a perfect tool.
Pro tip: Attach each goal to a different “why” to make sure you care about them. WHY do you want to eat three salads each week? WHY do you want to be able to do five pull ups in a row? This may even change your goal, depending on your answer to the question.
2. You don’t have milestones in place
Without milestones, resolutions can feel too daunting and overwhelming. Saying that you’ll “run a marathon” is different than:
“I will run three times each week January through March; sign up for a 5K in April; run a 10K in July; do my first half-marathon in October.”
These milestones make your goals more achievable by breaking them into smaller steps that feel easier to manage. Luckily, it’s easy to add milestones to nearly any resolution. Consider what milestones make sense for yours, write them down, and make a plan.
Pro tip: Focus on monthly themes. Giving yourself a month to achieve a milestone allows you to account for times when things don’t go exactly according to plan—it also makes for an easy-to-follow plan. If your resolution is to “eat healthier” your milestones may be, “January: Eat a salad for lunch three times each week. February: Choose a new vegetable at the grocery store each week. March… so on, and so forth.”
3. It’s not specific
- Run more
- Workout more
- Eat healthier
- Go to the gym more
With any and all of these typical resolutions, the question is: what does that actually mean? Better yet: how are you going to do that? Without these questions answered, it’s impossible to be successful because you don’t have a roadmap. The more specific you get, the easier it will be to figure out how to be successful.
For example, each of those resolutions will be more successful as, I will…
- Run three times per week, every week, January through March.
- Workout every Tuesday and Thursday in the morning at home before work.
- Eat a nutrient-rich salad at lunch Monday through Friday.
- Go to the gym three times each week at lunchtime.
Pro tip: Don’t be so specific that you’re deterred when you can’t meet every specific detail. If you can’t work out three times a week at lunch, don’t specify that. Instead, focus on finding three times each week that you can work out, whether it’s in the morning, afternoon or evening.
4. It’s not realistic
While anything is possible, being able to compete in the CrossFit Games in two months, when you’ve never stepped foot inside of a CrossFit gym, is not realistic. Resolutions need to be realistic to be successful. In this case, you need to step back and focus on step one—which is: “Get a membership at my local box (CrossFit gym), and go twice a week.” From there, set milestones, which we’ve already discussed are key to successful resolutions. Remember to keep these realistic and specific as well. A few milestones may be:
- Squat 100 pounds in 3 months
- Deadlift 75 pounds in 2 months
- Apply for a regional CrossFit competition in 6 months
Pro tip: Don’t worry about choosing a resolution that’s “too hard.” While it should be realistic, it should also encourage you to work toward something. Find that balance between challenging and doable to be most successful.
Be part of the 20 percent
Use these tips to see your resolutions through to success. Make them specific (so you can create a roadmap), realistic (so it’s actually possible) and meaningful (so you care about making the sacrifices needed). At the end of the year, you’ll feel like a rock star, which makes all the hard work worth it.