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Did you know that a full 45 percent of Americans are in the habit of making New Year's resolutions? Most people decide they would really like to lose weight, become more organized, spend less and save more, or enjoy life as much as possible. Staying or becoming fit and healthy, learning something new, quitting smoking, and helping others achieve their dreams are also popular goals, along with falling in love and spending more time with family.
Where does the idea of making New Year's resolutions even come from? The tradition dates back as far as the ancient Babylonians, who promised their gods that they would pay off their debts and returned borrowed items to their owners each year. Similar practices have existed in numerous different cultures since that time and to this day. The start of a new year naturally creates a clean break in many people's minds, making it the perfect time to decide to implement serious changes.
Why New Year's Resolutions Fail
New Year's resolutions fail for the same reason any new habit you believe you need to adopt fails — making big changes in your life is hard. When you are making that list of resolutions, you probably imagine how much better your life would be if you could accomplish your goals, without actually taking the time to reflect on the difficulty of the process you will need to go through to get there. People who are truly committed to breaking an existing habit — the habit of making New Year's resolutions they never accomplish — can take some immensely powerful steps to set themselves up for success.
What are the mistakes that cause New Year's resolutions to fail? Let's take a look:
- Setting too many goals. Breaking even one bad habit or creating one new good one is hard, never mind 10. People who think they can radically turn their lives around all in one go are likely to fail.
- Not being prepared. Sure, some people can make a bold decision to stop smoking or quit eating junk food and never look back. If you have tried and failed in the past, however, it is not particularly likely that you will succeed this time. Deciding to make a big change without reflecting deeply on what caused the bad habit or what will allow you to create a good habit is setting yourself up for disappointment.
- Looking only at the destination, not the journey. If your goal is weight loss, don't make "losing 40 pounds this year" your aim. Instead, decide that two pounds a week is a reasonable goal, decide to commit to taking a healthy packed lunch to work three days a week, or decide to exercise twice a week. Smaller goals are much more doable than monster goals, and will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed and giving up.