A reminder of why most New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail:
One of the biggest reasons people fail to accomplish their goals is lack of a compelling motive, an inextinguishable reason why you must complete an objective.
Will power and temporary excitement are just not sufficient; you must create powerful incentives.
Recall all of the times you were determined to lose weight. Maybe you saw a picture of a fitness model and decided that it would be nice if you could lose those love handles or drop a couple pound to improve your appearance. Remember how eager you were to get going on day one of your new diet plan? You breezed through your workout, ate your veggies and avoided junk food like the plague. You displayed similar discipline for the next week or so with nary a slip up.
After two weeks, your desire to stick to your diet plan was a fraction of what it was when you first started. You loathe waking up early in the morning because you can’t stand your exercise regimen. Rationalizations and excuses comforted you as you skipped workout after workout. You were constantly irritable and ornery because you had deprived yourself of so many of the foods you love to eat. You managed to lose some weight but you had no reason to maintain that progress. You had set out to lose weight because you ‘kinda, sorta’ wished you looked slimmer. Not surprisingly, you fell off the wagon and returned to your old way of unhealthy living.
Suppose I told you that you had one hour to acquire $100 through the solicitation complete strangers. If you failed to accomplish your objective, I would inject you with a serum that would leave you paralyzed for the rest of your life. Is there any doubt that you would find a way to get it done? Approach anxiety and shyness be damned.
There has to be some important person, place, thing, or idea to keep you transfixed on your goal. Fickle emotions and whims are not going to provide the lasting motivation you need when you are tired and don’t feel like putting in the work you need to. It can be a promise you made to a terminally-ill relative, or an intense desire to achieve a personal best or correct a long-standing transgression. It just has to be something that all but guarantees you will succeed. Public accountability can be a very powerful motivator in this regard. Enlisting the help of a third party may be the extra push you need to get something done.
Every New Year’s Eve, millions of people decree that their New Year’s resolution will be to lose weight. Most will fail because they possess only a lukewarm desire to accomplish their goal (to speak nothing of ill-conceived ascetic diets and over-zealous workout goals). A fleeting desire to look fitter or improve one’s health will not be enough for most of these folks. Without a compelling motive (and a detailed plan of action) to keep them going, they are setting themselves up for disappointment.
A plan that provides structure and incremental progress is critical. Something that’ll deter deviation from the plan and encourage you to move forward no matter how you’re feeling on a day-to-day basis. If you’ve got a system in place to guide you along the path you want to travel, you won’t have to rely on temporary excitement or motivation to get going and stay dedicated.
Good goal-setting plans include:
– A date for completion (I will complete “goal x” by Dec. 31, 2013).
– The specific actions you’ll take to achieve it ( To achieve “goal x”, I will do A, B, and C).
Visualization of your end goal is helpful, too. Picture what it’ll look and feel like to be the person you want to be.