The Resolution Trap

Here it is, just a couple of days before New Year’s. You’re wondering what will 2020 hold, and what kind of goals you’ll set for yourself.

Everyone knows the beginning of their favorite new year’s sentence: “My new year’s resolution is…”

And of course, the inevitable failure that follows is also all-too-familiar. Roughly nine out of ten don’t make it. But why is it so hard to keep a resolution? To be honest, there are a number of reasons.

First, it’s likely not specific enough. In Business Insider, it’s suggested to make a concrete goal as your resolution. “”It’s easier to drop out or walk away when you set goals or resolutions that are vague. When it’s really detailed and specific, it’s harder to walk away from it.”

Second, you’ll probably come out of the gate at a sprint. But it’s a marathon, and you have all year.

Third, if you’re like me, you want all the changes to occur. When what you should be focusing on is one specific change, which you work on and implement into daily practice. That’s something you can build from. Change begets change.

Fourth, maybe they’re really big goals. So set smaller milestones. Say, cut the goal into quarters, or into twelfths. Then by the end of the first period, you should have that first cut completed. (Lose 25 pounds, for instance. Or roughly seven pounds by the end of March. And anyone can lose seven pounds, can’t they?)

And lastly, there is some psychological rationale behind why it’s so hard. We might make resolutions that are “significantly unrealistic and out of alignment with [our] internal view of [ourselves]”.

This is where I usually advocate mindfulness and honesty. Be prepared for the new year, and ring in 2020. But please go easy on yourself too. Don’t beat yourself up. Know what you want in the coming year, and take steps to achieve it. And even if you fail, you’ll still be closer to your goal than when you started.