Every year we dedicate January 1st as the day we celebrate our hopes for the next 365. And every year only 8% of people who make New Year’s resolutions actually achieve them. This is a shockingly low percentage, especially given that more than half of us annually make them. So why so few? It’s not from lack of motivation or desire. I think most people in January truly want to see positive change in their lives in the coming year.
The obstacles are many. Some of our resolutions are too ambitious and unrealistic. Some are not well thought out or strategically planned. And others focus on what we are doing wrong versus what we could be doing right. So if there are so many obstacles to resolutions and our success rate so low, why do we continually make them year after year?
One reason is the natural allure of change and something new. One article highlights several studies that point to the human draw to temporal “new beginnings.” For example, one group of researchers “looked at daily Google searches for the term ‘diet’ over a period of nine years. They found that searches followed a predictable cycle: they peaked at the start of any given week, month, or year, then gradually tapered off. The largest increase—eighty-two percent above the baseline—occurred immediately after New Year’s.” This same trend showed up in other resolutions ranging from gym memberships, savings, and stock investments.
There is then a giant gap between our indomitable hope for new beginnings and our embarrassingly long track record of failure. The question is how do we bridge it? One suggestion is to implement a system of smaller “new beginnings.” Embrace the hopeful, optimistic part of you and set much smaller goals with more realistic expectations. Instead of idealistic goals for the entire year, set smaller goals for the month, week, or even day. The continuous hope of weekly waves will carry you farther than the giant wave of January that crashes in March.
Good luck and Happy New Week!