Five Ways NOT to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions

In 2013 nearly half of Americans made New Year’s Resolutions. Unfortunately, out of those who made New Year’s resolutions, only eight percent succeeded.

Why? The key to understanding how to keep your resolutions is to understand what unsuccessful people do and then NOT doing those things.

Here are five things unsuccessful people tend to do with their New Year’s Resolutions (and what you can do instead):

1. They Have Too Many Resolutions
Research suggests that having one resolution and focusing on it is the way to go. If you decide to tackle more than one resolution, make three your limit.

2. They Make Unspecific Resolutions
Almost half of resolution makers take on education or weight loss. While it’s great to say, “I’m going back to school” or “I’m going to lose weight,” it isn’t specific enough to keep you motivated. Instead, say “I’m going to enroll in one class per semester” or “I’m going to lose 20 pounds by trading soda for water, eating healthier snacks, and exercising three times per week.” Now, you’re getting a better grasp on what keeping your resolution will require you to do.

3. They’re Unclear on the Steps
This goes hand in hand with having unclear resolutions. If you don’t know specifically what you’re going to accomplish, you can’t know how to accomplish it. Once you’ve set specific goals, you can name the steps it will take to get you there. Going back to the education example, taking one class per semester will require you to apply, select your courses, register and attend. Now you can act, because you know what to do.

4. They Don’t Reward Themselves for Milestones
Losing 20 pounds is a great goal, but losing the first five is a big deal too! Having clear steps means you know what your milestones are. If going back to school is one of your resolutions, did you apply? Great! Go get yourself a nice, new notebook or a set of high-quality pens. Have you selected your courses? Wonderful! Time to treat yourself. One suggestion: don’t reward yourself with food…especially if one of your resolutions is losing weight!

5. They Make Goals, But Not Habits
We are what we repeatedly do, so says Aristotle. Before we can lose that 20 pounds we need new habits. Realize that your goal is the end outcome of a process that involves consistently making different decisions from the ones you made before. Be mindful about breaking old habits and creating new ones.

Good luck as you tackle your resolutions! And if education is on your list, we invite you to check out our online course offerings at East Tennessee State University to find the flexibility you need for the education you want.

Happy New Year’s!

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