9 Reasons Why Your New Year Resolutions Fail

First of all, why am I even qualified to talk about this topic? I am just like you – lot of my resolutions have failed and lot of my projects have failed but when I have succeeded small number of times, I have done so with flying colors.

A couple of examples where I succeeded:

1. Yoga: When I learned yoga, I thought I would do this for the rest of my life. It was five years ago and since then I have been practicing it daily. In the last 1500 days or so, I have skipped only two days. I practice it every morning irrespective of where I am – even if I am at an airport somewhere (Hint: In many airports, there are prayer rooms where there is typically no one there)

2. Writing a Novel: A few years ago, I wanted to write a novel – a thriller. I decided to participate in NaNoWriMo so that I hold myself accountable. At NoNoWriMo, you write a complete novel of 50,000 words or more in the month of November. I completed by 65,000 word novel on day 19.

I won’t go into all the failed projects as a blog post will be too small to list everything.

I reflected what made the difference and the list is the result of that reflection.

1. The reason for making the resolutions are not strong enough

The results are easy when the reasons for going after those results are strong and deep. Think about the reasons for making that resolution. If you don’t find good reasons, either go find them or go and find a better resolution.

2. The resolution is not aligned with who you are

If you are connoisseur of fine cuisine and your resolution is related to diet, you will have a hard time to keep it. It’s not impossible but it’s just plain difficult. This happens when you get carried away by looking at resolutions of people around you or common ones that you find on the Internet.

Just being aware of it, will help you know what you are up against.

Always remember that it is YOUR life and the resolutions have to make sense for YOUR life.

3. You have not thought through what it takes to keep the resolution

It’s always fun to imagine the end state of having completed keeping that resolution. Vividly imagine what it takes to keep the resolution rather than basking in the imaginary glory of completed the task. This will better prepare you (mentally) to keep the resolution

4. You have not got the buy-in of the support structure

An old African proverb says, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want o go far, go together.” I am assuming your resolution is something that will take you far (otherwise, why make a resolution for that). If you want to go far with your resolution, you need a support structure that can provide good help. Those who can provide good help are busy with their own projects. It is your responsibility to build the relationships to warrant and deserve that kind of help. Typically, this is the biggest reason for resolutions to help – lack of “good” help because we have built enough emotional bank account balance to deserve that kind of help.

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5. What you become is not compelling enough when you keep the resolution.

Jim Rohn said it brilliantly – “It is not what you get, it is who you become.

You made up a resolution without properly thinking who you will become if you kept that resolution. Your focus probably was “what you will get.” Reflect on who you will become for sometime and see if that is what you really want. If not, it’s not too late to change the resolution.

6. When the going gets tough, you can come up with really convincing reasons to quit.

The actual saying from Robert Schuller is, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going.” The cop out response is to find really compelling reasons that will convince you and everyone around you that you have super valid reasons to quit. If you can put the same energy and enthusiasm to actually keep yourself going, you would have done a big service to yourself.

[ Find out why some smart people don’t take action? ]

7. You get too busy

This is the other way of saying that keeping the resolution was not really on your priority list. Nobody is too busy for things that are of real high-priority. When things lose priority, then you find that you don’t have time to attend to them. Revisit your priorities and see if you can fit that resolution into your high-priority items.

8. The stakes are not big enough

This is similar to the one related to strong enough reasons but slightly different. You can find out what the stakes are by asking yourself the question – “What do i stand to lose if I am not able to keep this resolution?” If the answer is flimsy, then you know that the stakes are not that high.

9. You don’t really believe that you will keep the resolution

Well, as Henry Ford said one – “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you are right.” It starts with your belief. At the core of everything, you have to BELIEVE that you can keep the resolution. You know yourself too well to fool yourself. The best thing to do is to stop kidding yourself when it comes to resolutions and start believing that you CAN keep them. Otherwise, you have lost even before you started.

BONUS Reason: Resolutions are NOT specific.

Examples of cop-out resolutions are as follows:

  • I want to be a better husband/parent/employee/networker/writer ( You can always get away with any of these things)
  • I want to improve my financial situation ( Again, you can get away by improving 0.0001%)
You create cop-out resolutions when you don’t want to be held accountable as movement for those results are generally not measurable.

Photo Courtesy: Abhinav Mathur on Flickr