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Why New Years Resolutions Do Not Stick?

Updated: May 23

It is December but for weeks or may be even for the last couple of months we started thinking about our new year resolutions; how we will make 2019 different than 2018. We wait for January 1st instead of putting all those decisions in place right now just like we postpone starting our diet next Monday, next month.

It is OK. We all seem to need a specific milestone to start something. Actually we can start anything, anytime with one decision. I will eat healthy, I will start my book, I will look for a better job, I will make phone calls to my friends in need; whatever version we have. So instead of starting it now, it gives us a breathing space and we can keep doing whatever is not working for us. It gives us a good excuse to postpone. We love postponing! We are just human. It is OK.

So the new year comes: we are so excited about our new goals and the energy of the “new” year. This one is definitely going to be better. It is really great to have this drive, motivation, and energy in us. So what happens then?

We sign up to the gym, we buy healthier food, we start our search for the new job, we start our book, we start making the calls to friends. Then a distraction comes along. It could be anything that looks and feels more important than our resolutions at the time. We start to slack. Then our thoughts start to look like this “My life is not so bad as it is. Why change?” “It takes too much energy to do something different.”” I cannot fit it into my schedule.”” It is hard to stay in track.”” I will start all over next Monday or next month.” So our old habits and our comfort zone take over. It is so much easier for us to stay in our familiar routine even when it does not serve us well.

Since the “new” year, the “new” week or the “new” month matters, it gets easier to let it go too. “I missed this train. Let’s wait for the "next" start of something.”

The downside is you do not keep your promise to yourself. You obviously want some change in your life. Change happens only when you are out of the comfort zone. You either contract or expand with what you do and with your habits in life.

Nobody gets healthier by going to the gym for a month. Nobody completes a book by writing for a few nights. Nobody finds a job by spending a few days online. Nobody builds meaninful relationships with a few calls. It all takes consistent energy and will power. And that is not easy.

First of all, what if we do not tie any big and important decision for our lives to the first day or the first month of the year? We can make a decision any day to change our lives for better. If the New Year gives you an extra boost great; use it but once it starts to fade away - because it is no longer the beginning of anything- keep the intention of your goal in focus. Ask yourself: Why do you want this change to happen anyways? Why is it important to me? What is the real impact of not getting healthier, not writing a book, not finding the next good job, not reaching out to friends? Can you stick with it even if you could not do in January? Do you really want this?

Second, do not see this as a failure. Many people cannot follow through with their resolutions. We expect just too much from a new year; it is just another series of days right after these ones we are going through now.

And worst of all, please do not make the whole a year a bad one because something bad happens in February. All years have good and bad days and events in them. Yes, some years can be actually awful having a serious sickness or losing a loved one but if it is not one of them do not forget to count the wonderful things happening to you. It cringes me to hear “This year has been bad to me. Cannot wait for the next one.” It could be as early as April when I hear this. Why wait? Make all days count before the next one arrives. Do not delay your life.

It seems like the reason new years’ resolution do not stick is we make the NEW YEAR itself be responsible for it. Either the year is good to us or bad to us and that determines if we can keep our promises to ourselves or not. Do not blame the whole year if you could not keep the promises to yourself; just take responsibility (not guilt), start your plans all over again until it sticks by remembering why it is important to you.

Do not give up on New Year's Resolutions; just remember why they are important to you and the impact of not doing it.

Happy New Year and Happy Resolutions. Part of the fun is the hope of the new year being better than the last. :)

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