I’m sorry to be the one to tell you, but you’re probably not keeping your New Year’s resolutions.
It sucks to hear that, especially since we haven’t even hit 2017 yet, but it’s the plain damn truth.
Every year, most people promise themselves that they’ll get in shape, make more money, try something new, change their life, quit something, start something, etc. etc.
And then it doesn’t happen.
Once you learn why people don’t really make these changes, though, you can do a better job of making sure you actually follow through on your New Year’s resolutions.
Here’s why most people screw it up:
Their New Year’s Resolutions Aren’t Specific Enough
“I’m gonna get in good shape.”
OK, cool! But, what does that mean? If you lose a pound or two, will that do it?
“I’m gonna make more money.”
Awesome! But, will you be happy if you realize that you made an extra $500 compared to 2016.
This might sound weird, but don’t underestimate how lazy your brain is.
Your brain is an incredible instrument. It wants to give you what you want, but it also doesn’t want to overwork itself.
So, if you give it a nonspecific standard, it will clear that standard by the slimmest of margins. $500 really is more money than last year, and one or two pounds lighter is better shape. You got what you asked for.
To combat this issue, be more specific. When you talk about getting in shape, set specific goals: weight, waistline, and other body measurements.
You might not know exactly what numbers or goals to set, but make your best guesses. As you work towards your goals, you’ll see what is realistic and what isn’t and adjust accordingly.
The Resolution Has No Emotional Anchor
“I’ll quit smoking because I should.”
When has “because I’m supposed to” ever gotten anyone to do anything?
It’s not going to work. The key when setting a goal is to create as many positive emotional anchors as you can.
As logical as we all think we are, we’re emotional creatures above all else. So, you have to take your emotions into account when you’re setting goals.
In the smoking example, consider how much better you will feel when you exercise: no coughing, no saying, “FML” when you head up that third flight of stairs. Think of how much happier your life will be in a few decades when you aren’t rotting out your lungs. Walk through all the benefits and feel them.
When you want to backslide, those emotional snapshots you created will help you stay strong and stick to your resolution.
There’s No Actual Game Plan
You want to make more money in 2017? Awesome! What are you doing to make that happen?
If your goal is to magically luck into a raise, then it all depends on luck.
You see, most people don’t get what they want, not because they don’t want it, but because they don’t have a game plan of how to get it.
Get a plan. Get a strategy. Create a list of things that you can do.
It doesn’t have to be the perfect plan. It just needs to be a plan. Put it into action. See what works and what doesn’t. Keep adapting it.
Wanting something is not enough. You need to put in daily effort to get closer to your goal. If you don’t have a plan, then you simply won’t put in the work because you won’t know where to start.
They Don’t Measure Their Progress
Here’s an experiment:
Walk outside. Put a blindfold on. Spin around 10 times. Now, walk to the nearest gas station.
Pretty hard to do when you can’t see if you’re heading in the right direction, right?
Easy things become hard when you can’t measure your progress. Sure, you want to get in shape, but if you aren’t weighing yourself regularly, if you aren’t keeping track of the exercises you’re doing, if you aren’t taking body measurements or tracking your food intake, then how the hell do you really know if you’re headed in the right direction?
Truth is you don’t. Sure, you can feel it out, but subjective, inconsistent, anecdotal evidence doesn’t cut it.
Whatever goal you set, come up with a list of criteria that help you determine how you’re doing. By keeping track, you’ll a) know if you need to change your game plan and b) give yourself mini-goals that you need to reach.
By setting clear goals that motivate you and by designing a game plan and measuring your progress, you eliminate 99 percent of the ways that you can screw up your New Year’s resolutions.
Don’t let 2017 be a “what if?” year.
Make 2017 your damn year.