If you’ve ever made New Year resolutions, then you’ve probably felt the eventual dismay of abandoning your goals early in the year. And don’t feel too bad, you’re not the only one. Out of 40% of Americans who make resolutions, only 8% are able to make it to the end. But why is it so hard to follow through? What are we doing wrong?
Giving up is pretty common, in fact 60% of Americans will fail to act on their resolutions. Even in other countries, people tend to give up within the first 3 months of the year. Even though we usually choose the same self-improving resolutions every year, we still give up. The most popular resolutions include bodily health (eating healthy, exercising more), making more money, and learning more (professionally, academically, and recreationally).
But there’s a chance your resolution is unrealistic based on your priorities and degree of effort.
There’s a solution
Some years ago, economists Gary Charness and Uri Gneezy conducted an experiment with college students. All students were paid to exercise, but at different points. One group was paid when they attended the information session. Another group was paid if they attended the session, let the researchers track their gym habits, and went to the gym at least once in the following month. The last group only received money after attending the session, letting the researchers track gym attendance, and went to the gym a minimum of 8 times in the following month.
The final result was somewhat obvious as students who were required to exercise to get paid went to gym more frequently. But the more valuable data came afterwards. It appeared that the students who kept a more intense regiment earlier on found it easier to maintain later. This means if we can motivate ourselves and work intensely for a short period of time, subsequent activity become easier. Your consistent effort is more important than the actual resolution.
Analyze your data
Dreaming about being the next Shark Tank mogul or transforming your business is fine, but they’re just images of success not solutions. Thinking of the final result doesn’t guarantee you take the steps to even start your journey. Maybe you want to learn how to play an instrument, but don’t know where to start. Analyze yourself in data form and build a system of goals around it.
What timeline fits your schedule and budget? How long will it take to learn X if you dedicate Y amount of time regularly? How much will everything cost and does it disrupt your finances?
What resources are available to you? Do you need help from other people? Are there instructors available within travel distance? Will you enroll in online courses?
How will you measure and keep track of success over time? What are the quantifiable and qualifiable metrics to measure progress? What does your goals timeline look like?
Motivated in 2019
No matter how small or simple your resolution is, the key is to build a set of attainable goals. Some advise it’s actually better to skip making resolutions entirely and stick to smaller goals instead. Feel good about trying and stay motivated for a better 2019.