Three weeks ago saw a new year begin. Last week, January 17th to be precise, saw the day most people had already given up on their New Year’s Resolutions. It’s an ‘official’ day of the year, and is dubbed ‘Ditch New Year’s Resolutions Day’. Are we really a nation of quitters, or a race of failures, or is there a reason we just can’t stick to our New Year’s Resolutions?
First off, let’s look at the most common New Year’s Resolutions for 2017 as revealed by Google’s search metrics. It’s a lot more reliable than any survey, as rather than answer questions (dis)honestly, Google is simply telling us what we’re looking for. Scary, but accurate.
So, perhaps unsurprisingly, the most popular resolution this year was to get healthy. This includes to diet, lose weight and go to the gym… at least for two weeks. Becoming more organised was also up there, as was living life to the fullest, spending time learning some new hobbies and interests, and, obviously, spending less money.
The full list is:
1. Become more healthy
2. Become more organised
3. Start living life to the full
4. Pick up new hobbies and interests
5. Spend less money/save more money
6. Travel more
7. Read more books
These are all pretty standard resolutions, and there’s nothing really surprising there. The top one is probably something we’ve all tried to do at some point (unless you’re already super fit of course). However, as mentioned, most of us will have given up on those resolutions as early as last week, on January 17th. It’s the day where the majority of people who made New Year’s Resolutions have decided it’s just not going to happen.
Let’s look at some of the more common reasons people have for quitting their resolutions before they’re even got going.
Aiming too high
If you set your goals too high, it’s unsurprising if you don’t feel you’ll able to achieve them. Rather than say you’re going to get healthy, or lose 3st, or go to the gym five times a week, set more realistic goals. Maybe eat a salad once a week, or reduce takeaway meals, or go walking more instead of taking the car. Take baby steps to achieve a larger goal. It’s easier to maintain, and you won’t feel overwhelmed at the task.
All by myself
It’s very difficult to make life-changing resolutions and stick to them without support. If you’re left alone, feeling all morbid and self-pitying, falling into old habits becomes a comfortable fit. Don’t try to do it by yourself. Get a friend, a like-minded friend, to help you. It’s why regular gym-goers have a training partner. They help to motivate each other. I’m not saying make friends with a gym bunny and start wearing spandex, just attempt to make these small changes in your life with the support from someone else.
To thine own self be true
It’s all very well telling fibs to your friends about what you’ve eaten, how much exercise you’ve done or how many books you’ve read – but if you lie about these things you’re only lying to yourself. These are your resolutions. You’ve resolved to make these changes in your life. You need to be honest with yourself. You should also be honest about your resolutions in the first place. If you don’t want to lose weight, but your partner wants you to, it’s highly unlikely you’ll achieve it. You need to pick resolutions you believe in, not ones you think someone else wants you to achieve.
It’s all about the money
As with any change in your lifestyle, money plays a part. If you’re trying to lose weight, then gym memberships and healthy food will cost you.
It’s a sad fact that junk food is much cheaper than healthy food, and probably something that is inherently wrong with society as a whole, but that’s not your problem right now. The issue is that money can be a reason why people give up. This is also true when the resolution is finance related, such as ‘save more’ or ‘spend less’, or when it requires a lot of money such as to go travelling. Try to find ways around this that don’t cost money. For example, walking to work instead of driving doesn’t cost you any more money, in fact it saves you money. If it’s too far to walk, why not take the bus? Perhaps you could even walk to the next bus stop, or the one after that? Remember, baby steps.
Time waits for no man
This is a big one for me. I’ve personally pledged to walking a great deal each day, and this takes, on average, two hours a day. It’s time I could use elsewhere and is a genuine struggle. I have maintained it though, even in adverse weather, because it’s a gentle exercise to which I can commit. The alternative of going to the gym, or taking up running, is something I really don’t want to do as I know it would represent the tipping point of my motivation. Walking to work and walking home, while doing additional walking during lunch, and in the evening, is something I can spend the time on.
You need to make your own decisions on that one. How much time can you commit to your resolutions? Once you have decided that, you need to factor it into your day and make it one of your habits, your rituals. Once you start doing naturally it’ll be harder to stop it than it was to start it.
So, you’ve read the top resolutions and you’ve read the most popular reasons people fail at them. How many of these resolutions and excuses apply to you?