Resolutions Suck! Make a Game Plan Instead…
by Jennie Jerome
Have you ever noticed that the most common thing about New Year’s Resolutions is that people fail to achieve them? Not only do they fail, but they fail MISERABLY!
Let’s look at some statistics. According to statisticbrain.com (whose source is the University of Scranton Journal of Clinical Psychology):
- 62% of Americans make some type of New Year’s resolution.
- Only 8% are actually successful in achieving their resolutions.
Furthermore, many people set the same resolutions year after year and never reach their goals.
Ew! How depressing. And disheartening. And utterly unworthwhile.
Why then is there so much hype around resolutions if so many fail?
Simple: dissatisfaction and hope.
As the year draws to a close, we naturally begin to reflect on what did or did not happen. In general, we become aware, or increasingly aware, of an area or two (or 10) in which we are dissatisfied.
As we begin to buy new calendars and planners and generally prepare to begin the New Year with a “clean slate,” we hope that this year all the things we were dissatisfied with will transform and fall into place. We get so hooked on this idea, in fact, that we resolve to make it happen. We say with absolute conviction that we will go to the gym every day, finally clean the basement and donate everything to charity, or write the novel we have been meaning to write for the past 20 years.
The problem? After the initial resolving is done, the doing doesn’t happen. We don’t have the ability to get to the gym every day, we don’t have the energy to clean the basement, and we certainly don’t have the time to write that novel.
What are the top three reasons resolutions fail?
- Scope: People try to do too much too fast.
- Vagueness: People don’t set measurable goals.
- External Motivation: People set goals based on what they think they “should” do based on external judgment, rather than on what they want to do based on intrinsic motivation.
What can we do, since resolutions suck?
Make a game plan instead of a resolution.
More statistics according to statisticbrain.com:
- 25% of people do not maintain their resolutions past the first week.
- Another 51% of people do not maintain their resolutions past the six month mark.
If that is not dismal and depressing, I do not know what is! Therefore, this year I challenge you to make a game plan instead of a resolution.
First: Pick the top two or three areas of your life that you would like to improve. Limiting it to two or three helps with areas of overwhelm and scope, increasing your likelihood of success.
Second: Take out that brand new calendar and write your overall goals down in the notes section. Then, break those goals down into actionable items for each of the 12 months on your calendar.
To manage scope and ensure you will stay on point, try taking the opposite approach from what most people do and under-schedule each area. For example, instead of saying, “I’m going to go to the gym every day,” say, “I am going to go to the gym once a week, for the first month, and twice a week for the next three months.” Starting small with easily attainable goals, and then increasing these goals incrementally, reinforces success rather than failure and allows you to build a habit rather than avoidance or procrastinatory behavior.
Third: Don’t pay ANY attention to what the media, your husband, wife, children, or best friend think you should improve. Chose things that really matter to you, and assign success based on what you truly want to achieve. For instance, if the media says you should be a size four, but you are happy at a size eight, then set your goal to remain a size eight.
It is important to choose not only the categories, but the nuances of what success looks like to you in your unique situation. As soon as goals become about pleasing something or someone external, we set ourselves up for excuse making and failure.
So there you have it: my top reasons for why resolutions suck and a creating a sustainable game plan is the way to go. What do you think? Do you agree with me or not? Please share your comments below.
Jennie Jerome is a marketing consultant and business coach specializing in strategy and negotiations. Her business is focused around determining where you are, where you want to be, and how you are going to get there. She is in the process of launching a new and expanded website, but you can connect with her here, or meet her in person at the Publishing and Book Promotion Meetup, organized by Laura Orsini. Jennie is a reoccurring guest blogger and posts here the 5th of every month. Please feel free to submit questions or blog ideas in the comments sections of her posts. Happy writing!
I think Jennie’s post is great. Coincidentally, earlier today I read this great post about the idea of reinvention rather than resolutions. Jason’s steps mirror Jennie’s, but he goes one further by suggesting you make a list of people who will help you achieve your reinvention goals. Just an added piece you might want to check out: http://jasondoesstuff.com/reinvention-not-resolutions