As many as 92% of such vows end in failure, but experts say you can beat the odds
Make 2018 your year.
Anything from between 42% to 92% of New Year’s resolutions end in failure, according to a new report from WalletHub. That’s no big surprise: we already know that Americans give up on 80% of the turn-of-year vows they make by the second week of February — and just 8% of us achieve any of our pre-set goals at all.
Americans set high targets and the struggle is real. The most popular resolutions for 2016 were to “get healthy,” “get organized,” “live life to the fullest,” “learn new hobbies,” “spend less/save more,” and “travel,” according to data from digital marketing firm iQuanti.
There’s some evidence that aiming high makes it likelier you’ll achieve your targets, but you’ll need more than mere wishes. “Without having a structured program to reach their desired outcomes, people will often fail,” says Julie Weidenfeld, a fitness consultant in Delray Beach, Fla. According to the the founder of Peak Health 360, many of us set goals that are either too lofty, or have no timetable to achievement. Here’s how to change that.
Understand why: Don’t just say you want to lose 30 pounds, Weidenfeld says. All goals should come with a reason. “I need to lose 30 pounds this year because my doctor is telling me I’m going to be prediabetic and I don’t want to go on insulin, so I’m going to lose five pounds a month” is a much stronger incentive.
- Make an action plan: Draw up your goals with realistic deadlines. Whether it’s saving more money or dropping some pounds, accept that your efforts may not unfold exactly as you predict, and have a way to counteract that. This could mean “hanging up a picture of the dress you want to wear… [or writing down] the reason why and hanging it up in [your] bathroom or kitchen,” Weidenfeld says.Setting mini-goals also help make your larger objective more obtainable, says Dr. Scott Krakower, assistant unit chief of psychiatry at Zucker Hillside Hospital in New York. Otherwise, falling off the bandwagon can negatively “[impact] your self-esteem,” he says.
- Enlist help: Accountability is important, so consider pairing up with a friend. You can also follow inspirational figures pursuing similar goals on social media, where seeing a motivational Instagram post from someone whom you admire every day could keep you going, Weidenfeld recommends.Two of her favorites include life coach Tony Robbins and fitness guru Christmas Abbott, founder of Badass Body Lifestyle.
- Establish a reward: If you’ve been diligent, occasionally indulge in a small treat to incentivize yourself to keep going, Dr. Krakower says. This could mean going to the movies or having an ice cream for dessert. “Have the extra layer of reinforcing yourself with something like that. It can go a long way [toward] keeping the goal consistent,” he says.
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