Why Most New Year's Resolutions Fail and What You Should Do Instead
It's incredibly hard to break out of old habits.
Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.
Did you look forward to the holidays for a short rest to recharge your batteries, reflect upon your business and then start planning for the new year?
Many of my clients share that they enjoy the short break, but then harsh reality of life quickly sets in, and they complain about being tired, overworked and burned out. Can you relate? Most entrepreneurs and executives have high-performance expectations for themselves and can feel disappointed with their lack of progress regarding their health, relationships and their revenues after reflecting upon the past year. That's when we are now convinced that something's gotta change, right?
Suddenly, we are empowered and excited by moving into the "New Year." We come up with all sorts of New Year's resolution ideas. It's our chance to start fresh like a new baby. We get in the car and rush to join the gym (again) while setting some great New Year's resolutions for our body and our business, thinking to ourselves, This is it, this is my new year of success, prosperity and happiness.
A lot of people have great resolution ideas to achieve their goals, like automatic bank transfers for saving money and a new smartwatch to help with weight loss. However, statistics show that only 9.2 percent of people ever achieve their New Year's resolutions and break free from their bad habits.
I believe that New Year's resolutions not only don't work but can make matters worse. Most people live in a safe comfort zone where they have scripted their life with their subconscious mind. The subconscious acts as a recording that repeats the same song over and over again. We might be telling ourselves all day long that we want something different from our past but, in vain, our history plays back by default, and we get the same results.
Do I need to remind you about the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing and expecting different results? Now that I have hopefully touched a sensitive nerve, you are probably asking, "So why do most New Year's resolutions fail? If they don't work, then what does work?"
The reasons why most New Year's resolutions fail
Unfortunately, most of us create too much resistance by injecting too many resolutions and goals into our minds. We write down a long list of stuff like the following.
- Double business revenues.
- Get more online reviews.
- Quit smoking.
- Quit drinking.
- Lose weight.
- Spend more time with friends and family.
- Read more books.
- Eat more healthy food or stop eating junk food.
- Learn to play an instrument.
- Learn a new skill, like social media marketing.
- Meet new people.
- Travel more.
This process results in setting too many expectations and creating unrealistic goals. We end up with a long list of trying to do everything at once, relying on our emotions to keep us motivated until we achieve them.
So, what should you do instead of making New Year's resolutions?
Change just one of your habits that creates the most change.
I discovered that making just one small change in your daily repetitive routine is a crucial step to alleviate the resistance that comes with change.
Remember that real change takes time, effort and patience. According to research from University College London, it takes about 66 days to completely break an old habit, and it can take much longer to master something new. While you are anchoring this unique pattern of action into your life, you are also uploading a new program in your subconscious. To stay motivated, it is important to celebrate even the smallest positive changes.
As you transform, it is very natural to experience different waves of emotion as you become more aware of how you feel. Honestly, self-awareness is the key to unlock all your potential for success.
21 habits of highly successful people
What do highly successful entrepreneurs have in common? They share productive habits that lead to prolific action which translates into positive outcomes and results!
Here's just a list of the 21 habits of successful entrepreneurs:
- They keep a journal.
- They talk to themselves in a mirror.
- They meditate.
- They read.
- They embrace their fears.
- They know that failure is part of success.
- They associate with only positive people.
- They set intentions.
- They talk to the universe.
- They are thankful.
- They prioritize their time.
- They don't sweat the small stuff.
- They focus on what they can control.
- They actively listen.
- They enjoy money as a byproduct of their dream.
- They don't count on luck.
- They love having fun and celebrate.
- They forgive themselves and others.
- They never give up but will change when needed.
- They don't make rash or emotional decisions.
- They listen to their intuition.
Hopefully, you noticed that most of these new habits are not activities, like going to the gym. Instead, they relate to creating new patterns for your thoughts. Once you change your thoughts, your habits and actions will automatically change, too.
It typically takes 21 days to shift into a new gear, so don't give up! In his bestselling book Psycho-Cybernetics, author Dr. Maxwell Maltz says the "human mind takes almost exactly 21 days to adjust to a major life change." Even though his research was originally on traumatic life events, he claims the principle applies "universally" and works just as well on positive changes.
If you can stick with it for only 21 days, you will have an excellent chance to succeed in achieving your goal because you changed just one habit. Commitment is key! You can do anything for 21 days, right?
Don't worry if you fail for that day, just keep going to the next day and the next day after that. Remember to celebrate your small victories, so you train your subconscious brain to program you for continued success.
Start by doing something about today and don't waste your time thinking about why it may not work, or you won't do it. Your one new daily habit will soon replace your motivation, and it will become a consistent part of your life, like brushing your teeth.
The reason you are an entrepreneur is that you are far from average and taking educated risks gives you an edge. You rise up daily, make life-changing decisions, and you hopefully perform better every day by overcoming challenges and solving other people's problems. You can do this!