Making Resolutions in 2023

Making Resolutions

Every time the year draws to a close many of us contemplate how we would like to change or do things better in the next year. The start of 2023 encourages reflection on the highs and lows of the past 12 months and allows us to identify what is working well and what may not be working so well. Our intention to improve and better ourselves gives us a sense of a fresh start. Resolutions can be a great way of redefining our goals and where we want to be, yet despite our best intentions some studies suggest that as little as 8% of people manage to stick to their resolutions. Fortunately, there are ways of approaching your resolutions that will significantly improve your ability to maintain them. In this article, we will look at some of the reasons why so many people fail to uphold them and offer strategies to ensure that whatever your goals may be – whether it is to lose weight, quit smoking, get out of debt, write a blog or start a business – you will be able to achieve them. If there is anything that you would like to discuss further, you can speak to a member of our experienced team.

Why Resolutions Fail

Numerous studies have sought to understand why it is that so many of us fail to keep our resolutions. Here are some of the main reasons why it can be so difficult:

  • We make long lists of resolutions and overwhelm ourselves by trying to achieve so much. The task is so great that many of us give up before we even begin.
  • Goals are vague and undefined e.g. ‘I want to be happier’ is not specific enough. It says nothing about what needs to be different in order for the person to feel happier and how they can go about making those changes.

Choose a resolution that matters to you

While making your resolutions ask yourself who are you doing them for? Often we are pressurised by others to behave differently or to change our habits. When we feel people are making demands or guilt-tripping us into something we are likely to respond with resentment and resolutions made to please others are unlikely to succeed. Make sure that the changes you decided to make are ones that are important to you. This will give you the motivation to help you see them through.

Keep it simple

Some people come up with an exhaustive bucket list of dreams rather than a manageable set of goals. While this is aspirational most people have so many competing priorities that if they try to do them all they doom themselves to failure. The prospect of climbing the proverbial mountain is so daunting that they simply give up. You can avoid this by making your list of resolutions short, simple and attainable. Many experts recommend only making one resolution and putting all your focus into making
that happen.

Make a plan

A useful strategy is to break down your goal or goals into small, achievable targets throughout the year. This can be particularly useful if you are working towards a larger goal like setting up a
business – you can spread tasks over the year such as research, budgeting, discussions with the bank and so on. This keeps things manageable and gives you a sense of satisfaction and a motivational boost each time you accomplish what you set out to achieve.

  • Goals are not measurable e.g. ‘I am going to go to the gym’. This does not specify how often you will go, when you will go or what you want to achieve by going to the gym. There is no way of measuring if the goal has been achieved. After one or two visits the momentum is gone and so are the trips to the gym
  • Once the elation of setting a goal has passed we quickly become frustrated and give up
  • The resolutions are not realistic or achievable
  • We believe we lack willpower. When our goals begin to feel challenging we tell ourselves that we are simply not disciplined enough, that we ‘always give up’ or that we lack the necessary willpower to see it through. Then we fall back into our old familiar habits
  • We lack a viable plan

Anticipate Challenges

Our good intentions often falter when life throws up challenges and we find ourselves in tempting situations. Before you set out to achieve your resolutions take some time to think about when
you might struggle. For someone who is quitting smoking the toughest moment can be having a drink with friends. For the person who is trying to lose weight it can the cakes that are shared in the office every time a colleague has a birthday. Think about these situations in advance and have a plan for how you will handle them. You may even choose to avoid certain situations for a short while until you have built up more resolve. This will ensure you are prepared and better able to stick to your resolutions when you encounter obstacles.

Be forgiving of yourself

If you have a moment when you slip up – perhaps you have a cigarette, skip your lunch time walk or have one drink too many – try to accept what you have done and get back on track. It doesn’t have to mean giving up on the resolution altogether. Some changes are difficult to make and can take time and practice. The important thing is that you keep going. Every day is a new day and an opportunity to try again. Give yourself some wiggle room Absolute resolutions like ‘I will never use my credit card’ or ‘I will never eat chocolate’ can be difficult to maintain. Instead of making rigid rules you may find it easier to maintain them if you allow yourself some flexibility e.g. you might allow yourself a credit card purchase on special occasions, or permit yourself a chocolate dessert when you are out in a restaurant.

Develop your willpower

‘I have no willpower’ is something that many people tell themselves as they give up on their resolutions. They assume that willpower is something that belongs to others and use this as justification for falling back into familiar habits and old patterns. Social psychology professor Roy F Baumeister conducted extensive studies into what willpower is and how we use it. He concluded that it is like a muscle that can be strengthened the more that we use it. Not only that, but people with a well developed sense of willpower grow into healthier, happier and wealthier individuals. Even simple acts of will like reminding ourselves to stand with good posture, avoiding sweets or making the bed each morning help to improve our overall willpower. The more we use it the stronger it becomes.

He also points out that, like any muscle, it can become tired with overuse and pushed beyond its limits. If we are ill, lacking sleep or if women have premenstrual syndrome it can be compromised. It is therefore a good idea to be aware of this so that we do not tax our willpower too much at these times. Developing your willpower and using it with awareness can be a real asset when pursuing your dreams.

Give yourself some wiggle room

Absolute resolutions like ‘I will never use my credit card’ or ‘I will never eat chocolate’ can be difficult to maintain. Instead of making rigid rules you may find it easier to maintain them if you allow yourself some flexibility e.g. you might allow yourself a credit card purchase on special occasions, or permit yourself a chocolate dessert when you are out in a restaurant.

Make it realistic

It is important that your resolution is achievable. For someone who has not exercised for many years a resolve to run the marathon in the spring is neither realistic nor good for your health. You will need to build your general fitness level before such an undertaking. The marathon can remain a goal for a later time but the first goal has to be refined, perhaps incorporating daily walks and then building up to regular short runs. It could also include a health check with your local GP.

Use SMART goals

In business, objectives are often determined using SMART goals. This popular approach can also be applied to our personal resolutions. The benefit of using SMART is that it is a convenient
reminder of the essential elements of goal setting. The acronym reminds us to set goals or resolutions that are:

Specific – Goals should be simple and should clearly define what you are going to do.

Measurable – Goals need to be measurable and this requires thinking ahead about how you will provide tangible evidence that you have accomplished it.

Achievable – Goals should stretch you so that you feel challenged but they need to be defined enough so that you can achieve them. This might include ensuring you have the necessary knowledge and abilities to achieve them.

Results focused – Your goals should measure outcomes rather than activity.

Time-bound – You need to set a time frame for achieving your goal so that there is some tension between the current reality and the vision of your goal. This increases the likelihood of meeting your desired outcome.

See resolutions as an opportunity

Resolutions are an opportunity to make life better. Being mindful of the benefits they bring is far more encouraging than viewing resolutions as punishments. Too often resolutions are defined by what we deny ourselves – treats, spending, a lazy morning in bed – and this kind of thinking neglects the benefits that such changes bring – a healthier body, greater financial security or a sense of accomplishment. A resolution can be about something positive like trying a new hobby or living in a way that gives you more energy and vitality.

Contact us

If you want to best support your teams and help them create and stick with their 2023 resolutions, contact the team today and we’ll create a tailored plan which supports your team best. Contact the Life & Progress team at 0808 164 3941 or email us at service@lifeandprogress.co.uk.

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