I want you to brainstorm: How many of the New Year’s resolutions you’ve set for yourself have actually been successful?
If you’re anything like me, that number is zero.
And yet, we still think every year it’ll be different.
That, magically starting January 1st, we’ll become an entirely different human being overnight.
We actually convince ourselves that we’ll start craving healthier foods, start managing our money better, or start loving exercise, instantaneously!
C’mon…we all know this is crazy.
But, we’re all guilty of making a New Year’s resolution at one point or another.
And if you already have, don’t worry my friend!
We’re going to get through this one together.
I’m going to fill you in on why New Year’s resolutions are ineffective and how we can formulate a plan that allows us to actually achieve our goals long-term.
There’s no denying that the promise of a New Year is very exciting.
It allows us to believe for a moment that our past selves no longer exist and that we are now capable of (finally) achieving the goals we’ve always wanted.
The hard truth is that we often use a New Year’s resolution as a reason to finally change.
We’re constantly looking for outside sources to hold us accountable when forming any new, healthy habit.
We want something to make us do it.
Since we don’t trust ourselves to get the job done.
The concept of a New Year’s resolution is perfect for filling that role.
As a society, we give it the power to force us to commit and achieve the goals we set.
Let’s just make one thing clear: A New Year’s resolution doesn’t accomplish your goals – YOU DO.
A New Year’s resolution won’t wake you up at 5AM for a workout 3-months later.
That only comes from you keeping a promise to yourself to get healthier and happier.
So, don’t rely on a resolution or anything else to MAKE you accomplish your goals.
You have everything in you to get it done.
Now let’s talk about exactly why a New Year’s resolution is so ineffective.
According to a recent statistic, approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February.
While at first, this sounds shocking, it’s hardly surprising at all.
I’ve accomplished ZERO of the New Year’s resolutions I’ve set for myself in past years.
The main reason New Year’s resolutions fail is that we rely on motivation to accomplish them.
We foolishly think since we feel so motivated on January 1st that we’ll maintain this new, healthy habit long-term.
Which means by February 1st we’re plain screwed since, at that point, our motivation has likely dried up.
This isn’t because you’re not capable of committing. Or that you’re doomed to never accomplish what you set out to do.
This is just how motivation works!
You cannot rely on motivation to achieve anything of value long-term.
It’s EXTREMELY fickle and should never be trusted.
Really, it’s just the way our brains work.
When we feel like we’re about to obtain something of value, we experience a spike in dopamine, the neurotransmitter most often associated with pleasure.
This is when we feel most motivated.
The problem is that this spike doesn’t last, and will likely be long gone after a week or so.
This feeling of short-term motivation will not be enough incentive for you to commit to a goal or action long-term.
You’ll then be left wondering what’s wrong with you and why you can’t ever commit.
The New Year’s resolution is one of the most deceiving tricks of all.
Most have this HUGE spike of dopamine when they think about everything they could accomplish in a New Year.
Society has played up New Years in our brains as this holy grail to success.
The thing about a spike is that a crash always follows.
This, my friends, is where New Year’s dreams go to die.
This crash in motivation (and dopamine) levels is how goals never see themselves through.
While New Year’s goals are respectable, they’re not logical or realistic long-term.
Going into it, we’ll think, “You just have to suck it up and DO IT THIS TIME! This year’s the year!”
In case you haven’t already figured it out, we can’t MAKE ourselves do anything long-term.
It’s only through small, calculated and consistent promises to ourselves that we form life-long habits.
And that’s what we’ll learn here.
There’s a number of goal-setting tactics we can use that have nothing to do with setting a New Year’s resolution.
By using these techniques you can set long-term goals at any time.
Let’s make sure that you’ll be successful ALL year, shall we?
Most of us are so desperate to achieve our goals because we think we need the result to be happy.
This is coming from a “scarcity mindset,” which will inhibit you from reaching your goals.
When you put this pressure on achieving a goal to be happy, you self-sabotage the process and make the experience negative.
This also causes you pain, since you feel like your life is lacking something.
You’re focusing on what you don’t have.
You need to instead establish an “abundant mindset,” where you set goals to grow and improve.
With this mindset, you think there’s enough success in this world for you.
You value the journey for what it’s worth and you are driven by positive emotions to complete a task.
Establishing this mindset will help you immensely when it comes to staying on track with your goals.
Another flaw of the New Year’s resolution is that we don’t take into account that commitment takes practice!
Many set their resolution with the expectation that they’ll commit 100% of the time from that day forward.
What most don’t understand is that commitment is a muscle you have to work to keep strong.
It’s something you have to practice regularly.
To do this you need to establish a “minimum baseline.”
This is the smallest amount of anything you’re willing to do.
You have a minimum baseline for how long you’ll go without eating, without seeing your family, or without shaving your legs.
So, I want you to establish a minimum baseline for the goal you’re trying to accomplish.
For example, if you set a minimum baseline to workout at least 3x a week, you would be ensuring that 3x a week you were working that commitment muscle.
This will make it easier for you to raise your minimum baseline over time so you can produce the results you want at a faster rate.
In order to accomplish your hefty goals, you’re going to have to get REALLY good at making decisions quickly.
When you wait to make decisions, you’re not only wasting time, you’re often in avoidance mode.
Decide your goals quickly and efficiently. Then, decide the plans you’ll use to follow through with your goals quickly.
So, plan and take action as quickly as possible.
The faster you make decisions, the faster you’ll start.
I want you to envision your future self once you’ve accomplished your goal(s).
Brainstorm the thoughts your future self would be thinking on a daily basis.
Write them down.
By doing this, it allows you to work backward mentally from your future-self.
This way you can determine how you’ll need to change your mindset to succeed.
Once you establish the thoughts, practice thinking the thoughts of your future-self on a daily basis!
The reality is that January 1st is just another day.
We should be treating every day of the year with the same excitement and promise as we do the New Year.
Really think about that for a second…
What if you realistically woke up every morning with the same determination and enthusiasm as if it was the start of an entirely new year?
This is the type of mindset that will fast-track you towards success.
Tap into this part of your brain to realize that you have everything in you to keep promises to yourself at any time – not just the New Year.
Hey there! I'm Kat Rentas. I’m a certified eating psychology coach for women who believes that eating healthy should feel simple and sustainable. I teach hundreds of high-performing women to change their eating habits without the overwhelm. Want to change your eating habits in a way that is aligned with your needs, preferences, and goals? You’re in the right place. You can read my full story here.