Why people break New Year’s Resolutions and how to conquer them

Every year millions of people make New Year’s Resolutions, but typically, we abandon them by the third week of the year. Why? If we take the time to claim our goals and maybe even put forth a plan, why don’t we follow-through with them until completion? Sometimes the plans we make are too lofty from the get-go. For instance, maybe your goal is to “get into shape.” If your beginning point is not exercising at all or only one day a week and your new plan is to hit the gym Monday-Friday, you might be reaching too high, too soon. Therefore, we need to set more realistic goals, which we will discuss today. 

That being said, though, the biggest reason people abandon their goals is because they don’t want to put in the hard work, and they don’t want to prioritize whatever the goal was. They give up because it’s uncomfortable, not enjoyable, or too much time, energy, sacrifice, you name it. That’s why having a realistic, but challenging plan, is so important. By carving a more-doable plan, you are more likely to stick to it for the long haul. Everything you want is on the other side of consistency, right?  

Last week we discussed Michael Hyatt’s domains for goal-setting. Did you decide which three domains resonated with you the most and create tentative resolutions? As a refresher, Hyatt outlined the following domains: Spiritual, Intellectual, Emotional, Physical, Mental, Financial, Avocational, Vocational, Social, and Parental. I will share my three resolutions, but also outline the following SMART goals steps using a common resolution as an example. 

To create a plan that you are likely to follow, let’s ensure that your goals are SMART. Sample goal: Using Michael Hyatt’s financial domain, the goal is to become debt-free in 2020. For this example, we will suppose you owe $5,000 in credit card debt.  

S = Specific – Is your goal specific? For this example, yes, the goal is specific. You want to pay off $5,000 in credit card debt over the course of the year.  

M = Measurable – Is your goal measurable? Yes, this goal is measurable. You can measure how much debt you have left after you make each payment.  

A= Achievable – Is your goal achievable? For this example, let’s assume that you have the financial capacity to pay down this credit card. 

R = Realistic – Is your goal realistic to your life? We’ve determined that you can achieve it, but here’s where the exact plan will be critical. We will break it down in a minute. 

T = Timely – Remember how we often say that dreams might remain dreams without action? This last step has the potential to derail your goals. This is the part where your goals can remain stagnant or move forward. If your goal doesn’t have a time constraint, then it might languish in the dream pile. In our financial example, it is a timely goal because the deadline is to pay off the debt by the end of the new year. 

Let’s examine this goal further. We’ve established that the goal itself is outlined well. What about the plan of action? The goal itself is just words unless you have a pathway to complete it. If the timeframe is one calendar year, then the easiest starting point is to divide the goal by months. If you divide $5,000 by 12 months, that means you must pay off $416 a month. To pay off this amount each month, you must do several things: Eliminate existing spending (daily coffee, reducing eating out four times a week to one, remove cable, etc.), increase income (by taking on freelance work or a part-time job), and re-allocate spending (Would it make more sense to put less in your savings each month and pay more on debt? Can you spend less on unnecessary services and put the money toward the credit card?).  

Bottom line: The goal of paying off $5,000 in one year is a “smart” goal.  

Examples of poor goals – The following are examples of poor goals because they aren’t outline in a SMART way.  

  1. I want to lose weight. – Not specific enough. No timely plan involved. If the goal had been “I want to lose 20 pounds in six months,” then that’s more specific. 
  2. I want to get into shape. Again, it’s not specific enough and lacks a timeframe. 
  3. I want to become a better bowler. – No timeframe, and it’s not defined. What does “better” mean? If the person stated, “I want to improve my average bowling score from 105 to 150 by the end of the year,” then that’s a “smarter” goal.  
  4. I want to learn about gardening. – There is no plan – How will you learn about gardening? What does “learning” mean? Will that include books, podcasts, interviewing people? Will the person volunteer at a landscaping company or horticultural center? 
  5. I want to travel more. – What does “more” mean? How much are you traveling now, and how much or how often do you want to increase travel? Hong long will the visits be? What is the timeframe in which you want to travel more? 

You can see how the above goals are only interests. You might like gardening, but what does that even mean if you don’t have a specific plan? Stating interests is simply sharing an opinion; it’s not a goal. Again, dreams will remain dreams until you develop a pathway to achieve them AND enact them.

My three goals – The three domains I chose to tackle in 2020 are social, avocational, and physical. I will outline how I created a specific goal for each domain. 

Social – I decided to make the “social” domain include all relationships, like my marriage, children, and friends. The following are three sub goals: I will see my best girlfriends every six weeks, I will initiate the contact, and schedule a follow-up dinner before we leave each time. For my marriage: I will initiate and plan a date night with my husband once a month. This begins with sharing the goal with him! Avocational social goal: I will join a local women’s business organization, attend the monthly gatherings, and volunteer to speak at one of them.  

Pause and reread those. Do they meet the “smart” criteria? Yes – they are all specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely.  

Physical – I have two subgoals for this domain. First, I will continue to exercise before work Monday-Friday. On Saturdays, I will still rise at 5:00 am to work on Follow Your Spark projects. You know I believe that all empowerment begins with your morning routine, so I will absolutely continue my rise and shine ritual! The second goal, though, is going to be a lot tougher. I’m not focused on losing a certain number of pounds, but I want to eat better. At first, this is too broad of a goal to be considered “smart;” therefore, I must be more specific. My food-related goal will be: I will eat no added sugar and only super-low glycemic carbs. I will have one exception meal per week (still no sugar, though). I did not add a deadline to this goal because I want it to become a lifestyle. Otherwise, it meets the “smart” criteria.

Avocational – I am super excited about these goals! I am a full-time high school counselor, which puts “Follow Your Spark” into the avocational category. Here are three avocational goals for the year: launch my digital course “Your Power Hour – Your master plan for creating & conquering your morning routine” in February AND September, create and facilitate a workshop in December on helping people give up sugar, and create and facilitate a workshop in April on helping people navigate their relationships as they reach for more. All of those goals meet the “smart” criteria, but they also require a list of steps to produce them. No worries – I created a content calendar for 2020 and up for the challenge.  

In the last few weeks, we done a deep dive into how to create goals and how to implement them. I hope I’ve shared enough examples and outlines to get you started planning for the new year. Afterall, 2020 isn’t only a new year; it’s a new DECADE. That deserves some serious reflection, and you deserve some serious prioritizing. Don’t miss the last article of the year for inspiration so fierce it will have you fist pumping while you read it!  

Comment below about your New Year’s Resolutions! Let me know if you want feedback to help you brainstorm a pathway to reach your dream!  

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