Every year, millions of people worldwide create New Year’s resolutions. In my experience, keeping these goals will happen when Harvard wins the Super Bowl (I used to say when Notre Dame plays for the National Championship, but I had to revise my metrics). In fact, according to most data (read this: I can’t remember where I got this data):
- … 25% give up on their New Years Resolutions after just one week?
- … 80% give up on their New Years Resolutions after 20 days?
- … only 8% actually keep their New Years Resolutions all year?
Here’s an example: On a group blog I write with, we were all asked to share our resolutions with the Universe in January, then check in throughout the year on our progress. No one in the entire group–Zilch–achieved theirs (well, I did). The reasons were varied and left me wondering why create resolutions that are so quickly brushed aside?
Why? It makes people feel good. They want to believe their lives will be better at the end of the year than they were at the beginning. Let’s look at the top four resolutions (according to anecdotal data):
- Increase exercise
- Be more conscientious about work or school
- Develop better eating habits
- Stop smoking, drinking, or using drugs (including caffeine)
These aren’t hard and still people aren’t achieving them. Who can’t ‘increase exercise’? Or ‘be more conscientious about work’? Cut out a few chips–one chip–and you’ve ‘developed better eating habits’. So given the ease with which the average person could succeed at these goals, why do they so soundly fail?
I have no idea. there is no shortage of well-meaning people who will suggest ways to keep your New Year’s resolutions. Here are five you’ve probably read:
- make them specific
- make them realistic
- share them with others
- have deadlines
- make them fun and rewarding
Those sound helpful, don’t they? Problem is, they don’t work. Who out there is going to revise their resolutions to make them more specific, more realistic, meet a deadline, and then share all that with friends? I’d rather take a long walk in tight shoes. They’re as useless as those suggestions for using leftover wine to make ice cubes. Who ever has leftover wine?
I’m going to fix this for you. I have five tips that work for keeping your New Year’s Resolutions:
- install a bell on your phone that rings randomly. When it dings, put the potato chip down, or jog in a circle, or ask a co-worker how you can help them (Work with me here: You don’t have to actually DO anything for them).
- delegate. Then it’s someone else’s problem. You’ve accomplished your goal. Check it off.
- hire someone. This has the added benefit of helping the unemployment rate.
- include stuff you’ve already done. For example, if you’re not the most sociable type and one of your resolutions is to get out more, count that New Year’s party you’ve already committed to. Now you’re done. Check it off. Move on.
- include nebulous goals like ‘spend less’. You can do that by skipping one Dunkin’ Donuts.
At the end of 2021, your friends will ask how you did it and you’ll feel accomplished, confident, and more sure of your ability to complete other goals. Check back here December 2021, let me know how you did so I can congratulate you.
Jacqui Murray is the author of the popular Building a Midshipman, the story of her daughter’s journey from high school to United States Naval Academy, the Man vs. Nature saga, and the Rowe-Delamagente thrillers. She is also the author/editor of over a hundred books on integrating tech into education, adjunct professor of technology in education, blog webmaster, an Amazon Vine Voice, a columnist for NEA Today, and a freelance journalist on tech ed topics. Look for her next prehistoric fiction, Laws of Nature, Summer 2021.