Finally, the disaster of a year that was 2020 is over and everyone is either excited or scared of what 2021 will bring. With the turning of a new year comes resolutions. You’ve probably done it yourself. I know I have. We make these promises but end up breaking them in the first few months of the year. According to a study published by the Journal of Clinical Psychology, only 46% of people who made New Year’s resolutions were actually successful at achieving them.
Here are the most commonly broken New Year’s resolutions:
- Exercise more - According to a survey by YouGov, among Americans making New Year’s resolutions, this takes the top place (50% of respondents). But are they achieving this goal? According to research, 60% of gym memberships signed in January either never get used or are forgotten by the following month.
- Saving money - The YouGov survey puts this in second place, with 49% of respondents promising to do this.
- Eat healthier - 43% of Americans who are making resolutions are hoping to switch to better food choices.
- Lose weight - Year after year, the weight loss goals are placed in the top 10 for the most common and most commonly broken resolution. The additional pounds we gain over the holidays often pushes us to make this vow.
- Break an addiction - For some it could be quitting smoking. This isn’t always easy and we’ve put it on the list due to its low success rate; only about 15% of people who try to quit achieve this for a 6-month period. Others are trying to break their digital addiction - according to research from the Journal of Accountancy, the average person checks their phone about 50 times a day.
- Learn something new - 2020 has been a year of learning, because of the global pandemic, many nations went into lockdown and virtual lessons became the main way to attain new knowledge. For years, this resolution has been one of the most popular ones that are also always broken due to lack of time.
- Reduce stress - Stress is a killer and is often associated with different diseases. It will do us well to have this on the list and actually stick to it.
- Sleep more - Sleep is essential to overall health. According to the Centers for Disease Control, one in three adults doesn’t get enough of it. The recommended hours is at least seven for people between the age of 18 and 60.
- Spend more time with family and friends- About 13 percent of Americans include this in their New Years' resolutions annually. Lockdowns and holidays forced us into this situation. For those who found the experience refreshingly wonderful, it will continue to find a place in the top resolutions they make. Spending time with friends will figure in the list for those who spent most of the year just with their family bubble.
- Travel to new places - While this particular promise has gone on and off the top of New Year’s resolution lists over the years, because of the limitations we all felt when it come to travel in 2020, this deserves a place in our 2021 list. Although the second wave of the virus may still make this impossible.
So, what can you do to stop yourself from failing at keeping these vows you’ve made to yourself? Try these 10 steps to help you achieve your dreams:
- Mentally prepare for the change - Identify potential resistance to your progress and your game plan if you encounter those situations. Continually remind yourself that you can achieve your goals if you put your mind to it.
- Be specific about what you want to achieve - Be as clear as possible. For example, instead of saying “be healthy”, you can set specific goals like exercising for 30 minutes at least twice a week.
- Choose realistic goals - Make sure that the goals are attainable -- it can be challenging but not impossible for you to achieve. For instance, you can learn 1 new language in a year, but would probably have a hard time learning 5 new ones.
- Set a timeframe for achieving your goals - A deadline can help keep you focused on what you want to attain.
- Write them down - It’s easier to remember them mid-year if you have your resolutions written down or typed as a document. Your written document can also serve as a reminder to take action whenever you’re veering away from the goal. In other words, it makes it more tangible.
- Use technology to your advantage - Trying to cut back on carbs? Use online carb calculators. Need to exercise more? Invest in a smartwatch designed for fitness. Want to be more productive? Use task management apps. There’s so much new tech out there that can help you keep track of your progress and how you’re meeting your goals.
- Start small - If you have big goals, break them down into smaller parts. The average success rate of those with more manageable goals is 35%. The American Psychological Association recommends starting small and changing one behavior at a time.
- Get support - It starts by sharing your resolution with friends, family, or like-minded people. If you have common goals, you might be able to help out each other. You may even need professional help. Fitness goals would be a good example of getting a professional to help you achieve your resolution.
- Don’t quit - We’re not perfect. You might fall off the wagon and that’s fine. If you do get derailed from your track, get back on it quickly and give yourself a pat on the back for starting again.
- Celebrate your wins - Each resolution that you achieved -- whether they be big or small -- deserves to be celebrated. It does not have to be anything grand. You can simply buy something for yourself or go out with friends or treat your family to a meal. Recognizing your achievements will encourage you to keep to the path.