Happy New Year! As we welcome in 2018 in January, many contemplate what habits they want to cultivate, change or remove in the coming year. The most common “resolutions” are losing weight and exercising, improving relationships, getting rid of clutter, reducing stress, spending less money, stopping smoking or drinking, and finding a more fulfilling career. Unfortunately, while most set out with great intentions and maybe even a plan, most resolutions don’t result in long lasting change. So, what stops us from making these positive changes stick? Five common reasons that resolutions don’t result in lasting change are unrealistic goals, lack of support, lack of true desire, not enough resources and vague planning. Let’s look at each of these factors:
#1 Unrealistic Goals
An unrealistic goal might be “I want to lose 40 pounds by February.” While it’s not impossible, it’s a goal that is improbable. A more realistic goal would be “I would like to lose 4-6 pounds in the next month.” This is a sustainable goal which can be reached in a healthy way. The first step in any change is deciding what you want and developing realistic expectations about how and when it will happen.
#2 Lack of support
Support is one of the most important keys to making positive lasting change. When we have another person or a group to cheer us on during the process or make the change with us, it is far easier to get over the hurdles. On the other hand, having people around us who either consciously or unconsciously attempt to sabotage our growth can be detrimental. Develop a plan that identifies who you can count on for support and if necessary set some strict boundaries with those who are sabotaging your progress.
#3 Lack of True Desire
Often, we set goals based on what we “should” do and not necessarily on what we want to do. In addition, the goal might not even be our goal but the goal of someone near to us. This is not to say we can’t reach it, but to do so we need to internalize our reason for achieving it. If we don’t, the first hurdle we hit will be an excuse to give up. In addition, if it is someone else’s goal for us, we may rebel against the idea even if it is good for us. Decide what it will give you and why it is important before starting.
#4 Vague Planning
To reach a goal, we need a plan or a roadmap to get there. The plan needs to consider specifically what we want, when we want it, how we will get it and what it will give us. By planning each step and contingencies for obstacles, the plan has a greater chance of staying on track to reach the goal.
#5 Not Enough Time and/or Money
Lack of time or money is often cited as an obstacle to reaching a goal. One way to overcome this obstacle is to begin tracking time and money. Once we know exactly how time and money are being spent we can begin to prioritize how to utilize both more efficiently.
What Weighs You Down?
There is also one additional factor that creates an obstacle in many attempts to successfully change and begins with answering the question – what weighs you down? So often, we try very hard to change one area of our life but find it hard to stay or get motivated because something else in life is “weighing” us down. For instance, a person who has struggled to lose or maintain weight loss might be weighed down by difficult relationships, job dissatisfaction, cluttered environment or lack of time for themselves. Often when that area is examined and addressed, the weight becomes easier to lose. Or, maybe stress reduction is a goal but until other factors like work/life balance, financial planning or better communication are addressed, the stress will remain. This applies whether you are attempting to create or stop a habit, find more fulfillment in life or reach any goal you have been working toward.
So, as we enter 2018, take a moment to thing about the question “what is weighing me down” and record your answer. The answer is most likely the place to prioritize your goals.
Wishing you a very happy, healthy and prosperous 2018!