It’s that time of year again and, if you’re anything like nearly half the US population, you’re probably thinking about your New Year’s resolutions.
Every year, countless individuals use the New Year as an opportunity to commit to creating meaningful, lasting change … And yet, less than 30 days later, 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail.
Why? Is it that people aren’t serious about creating change? Are their goals to lofty? Are they just plain lazy? In my experience, probably not. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at why most resolutions fail, and—more importantly—at the three steps you can take to make sure yours don’t.
But this topic is bigger than a single article.
I’ll cover the basics here but, if you’re interested in really getting the most out of the New Year, I invite you to enroll in my brand new, 100% free online course: Resolutions to Reality—How to Crush 2019 with Bulletproof New Year’s Resolutions.
If an intensive online program sounds more your speed, click the button below. If you’re just hear for the basics, read on!
The #1 Reason New Year’s Resolutions Fail
Why do most New Year’s resolutions fail? To answer this question, we first need to ask a more basic question: What is a New Year’s resolution? And the way I see it, the answer’s clear.
At its core, a New Year’s resolution is simply a goal to act differently.
The key word in that definition is “act.” Without action—or forward momentum—you can’t create change. Common sense, right? And yet most resolutions aren’t actionable; they’re merely inspirational. Let me give you an example.
“This year, I’m going to lose 60 pounds.”
That’s great, but how? “Losing 60 pounds” isn’t an action; it’s a result. It’s something you can aspire to, but not something you can do. You can, on the other hand, choose to exercise three days a week, or remove dairy from your diet—and, in doing so, lose the 60 pounds. Make sense?
Change—meaningful, lasting change—is almost always the result of action, not inspiration.
And yet most resolutions are heavy on inspiration and light on action. Never has Benjamin Franklin’s famous quote been more applicable: “Failing to plan is planning to fail.”
So that begs the obvious question, “Now what?” What do we have to change to make our New Year’s resolutions more actionable this year?
The 3 Secrets to New Year’s Resolutions that Last
Most resolutions are ultimately off-the-cuff wishful thinking. Here at Mindmaven, we pride ourselves on a more pragmatic approach with three unique angles:
- Setting action-oriented goals,
- Instilling action-driving habits, and
- Establishing long-term action-inspiring motivation.
We’ll touch on each of the three elements briefly and, if you want to learn more, you can enroll for free in Resolutions to Reality.
Secret #1: Setting Goals that Actually Get Done
I know I’m not the first person to tell you goals are important, and I probably won’t be the last. But as eager as everyone is to spout the importance of goals, few seem to have a truly actionable approach to setting goals that inspire action or create lasting change.
We’ve already discussed why above: Most goals are results-focused rather than action-focused. In Resolutions to Reality, we walk you through our unique three-step process designed to break down a results-focused goal (what we call a North Star Objective) into pragmatic daily actions (or what we call Goal Tests).
In the interest of giving you something immediately actionable, here’s one of the key takeaways: Write your goals as clear, actionable “yes” or “no” statements. For example: “This week, I spent at least 4 hours in Whitespace Time focused on the proactive tasks that move the needle most for my organization.”
The great thing about goals written in a yes-or-no format is it removes all ambiguity. At a glance, you immediately know two things: Exactly what you need to do, and whether or not you’re on-track.
Secret #2: Defining Habits that Direct Your Success
If there’s one thing that sets successful people apart from the rest, it’s their daily habits. We all share the same 24-hour days; what differentiates us is how we use the time we’re given.
Habits drive action, action drives change, and change drives results.
Make sense? So if you want to be more successful or productive, you need more successful, productive habits.
In Resolutions to Reality, we help you define the specific habits and integrate them into frameworks that’ll keep you moving forward and making progress day-in and day-out, and if there’s one thing I want to share with you in this article, it’s the power of action triggers.
Put simply, an action trigger shortcuts the habit-development process by “piggybacking” a new habit onto an existing habit. For example, let’s say …
- You wanted to develop the opportunity-generating habit of sending one email a day to someone you wouldn’t otherwise have contacted, and
- You already had a daily habit of grabbing a cup of coffee right after getting to the office.
You could create an action trigger by stating, “When I grab my morning cup of coffee, then I’m going to send an email to someone I wouldn’t otherwise have contacted.”
This might seem like a subtle difference, but it works because all you’re doing is adding an extra step onto a pre-existing habit, which is much easier to adopt and integrate into your life than an altogether new behavior.
Secret #3: Instilling Motivation that Lasts Through the Year
Pursuing goals and establishing habits is almost always easy in the beginning. But what happens in February, March, or April when “shiny object syndrome” begins to wear off and your New Year’s resolution is no longer “new?”
If you’re like most people, you simply stop pursuing change.
That’s why it’s important to place motivational “safeguards” in place early in the goal-setting process, to ensure you’re mentally equipped to continue taking action long after “natural” motivation fades.
In Resolutions to Reality, we discuss a number of ways to do exactly that. Perhaps the simplest—and one of my favorites—is simply revamping the way you communicate to yourself about specific tasks or habits. Why? Because …
How you communicate with yourself about a task directly influences your motivation to complete that task.
For example: If your goal was to develop thought leadership by writing two blog posts a month but all you can think is, “I’m a terrible writer, this is going to take forever, it’s going to turn out horribly” is it any wonder you never “find” the motivation to take action?
Identify the negative thoughts surrounding your goals and restructure them based on the positive results those actions will create. This is one of the rare instances where focusing on the result rather than the action is often the key to success.
For example: “I’m so excited for the opportunity to improve my audience’s life with this content,” or “I’m so excited for the increased revenue this phone call will generate.”
Make 2019 the Year Your Resolutions Become Reality
At the end of the day, meaningful change—and remember, that’s all a resolution truly is—really is that simple. By mastering the ability to set action-oriented goals, supporting those goals with pragmatic habits, and supplementing your progress with inexhaustible motivation, the results you’re looking for won’t be an “if.” They’ll be a “when.”
And my challenge to you is this: Make that “when” this year.
I hope the quick tips I shared in this article help make 2019 the year you reach your fullest potential. And if you want more, don’t forget: Our free online program Resolutions to Reality is still accepting new enrollees through February.
Whatever you decide and whatever your resolutions, I wish you nothing but the best. From me and the rest of the team here at Mindmaven, happy New Year!