If you’re anything like me, you know how hard it is to keep a New Year’s resolution. No matter how good your intentions are, it’s incredibly tough to stick to change.
So why do we set ourselves up for failure knowing full well that these resolutions end long before we’ve even started? The simple answer is that we desire change but we are using the wrong mindset in changing our behaviour.

Trouble keeping a resolution is a common phenomenon
According to stats and facts pulled together by Finder.com, almost 65% of American adults—164 million people—have made New Year’s resolutions, and the top five categories for New Year’s Resolutions are:
1. Health (fitness, diet, etc.): 39.2%
2. Self Improvement: 31.64%
3. Money: 29.81%
4. Love: 16.51%
5. Career: 13.69%
Approximately 72.4 million people—44% of the goal setters—believe their resolutions are in reach. The optimists far outweigh the pessimists—only 9.9 million people, or just under 6%, believe they won’t reach their goals.
But optimism will only get you to the starting line. Although many plan to follow through, the reality is that many will fail. Research shows that as many as 50% of adults in the United States make New Year’s resolutions, but fewer than 10% keep them for more than a few months.

Set goals, not resolutions
You can increase your chances of achieving your New Year’s resolutions by setting realistic and achievable process goals that will help you form new habits or stop bad ones, and achieve success for the long-term.
But let’s unpack the difference between a resolution and a goal.
Resolution: a decision to do or undo a specific behaviour, such as losing 5 kgs or stopping biting your nails.
Goals: a series of calculated steps designed to help you achieve this resolution, such as starting every day with a healthy breakfast, drinking 2 litres of water every day, and exercising 30 minutes five times a week.
Simply put, your resolution is your desired outcome, whilst your goals are the steps you must take to accomplish it.

How can you increase your chances of sticking to your resolutions?
When done in a realistic way, creating resolutions can be a good, productive way to set goals and intentions for the New Year and beyond.
But resolutions need to be meaningful and doable – else you are not giving yourself the best shot at success.
Resolutions might not last if:
1. It’s based on societal pressure, someone telling you or expecting you to change, out of remorse, self-hate or a strong passion in the moment
2. It’s too vague and broad
3. You have too many resolutions such as run the Cape Town marathon, pay off your credit card debit, stop biting your nails and find the love of your life – all within the space of two months!
4. There is no realistic plan or timeline in place to assist you in achieving your resolution.

Many blame an inefficient goal-setting strategy for failing New Year’s resolutions.
However, I want to argue that there is more to it. We need to start with a mindset change. Transforming your life requires;
– Self-reflection,
– A growth mindset – you can’t accomplish anything if you do not attempt it
– Overcoming your limiting beliefs, and
– Building new habits.

It is difficult to break old habits. It is not a matter of doing things once or twice, else we will become demoralised. If we only focus on outcomes, we will be anxious, be plagued with constant guilt, and not celebrate the small achievements along the way.
If you do not make time to reflect – especially on your purpose, values, and what gives you meaning, you will find it difficult to align your choices and your behaviour with your resolutions. Read more about reflection on my LinkedIn page (https://www.linkedin.com/in/renata-schoeman-0816544/) and view a video on YouTube (https://youtu.be/O6f5CdO2Uaw) to uncover what is meaningful to you.

Setting your goals
Use the SMART goal-setting technique coined in the Management Review journal in 1981 and start your journey to success!
Specific. Make your resolution clear. Don’t be vague with something general such as “I want to be healthier”. Rather break it down to: Lose 20kg, stop smoking or exercise five days a week. These examples are concrete and focused.
Measurable. Track your progress throughout and witness the sustainable change throughout your journey. Use an app or keep a journal especially if you’re cutting back on something, to document your progress. Tracking your behaviour will reinforce the progress.
Achievable. Don’t take big leaps too fast! If you want to save money, identify your end goal amount but start with smaller savings set aside each month. Each quarter you can adapt the amount and gradually increase your monthly savings to realistically reach your end goal amount.
Relevant. Ensure your goals has meaning to you and that you are doing it for the right reasons. This way you will be able to think hard about why you are adopting this particular change or behaviour and bring people into your life that will assist you in reinforcing the resolution.
Time-bound. Set realistic timelines with smaller intermediate goals in between. You are not going to lose 20kg in a week! Focus rather on small wins throughout, which will strengthen your willpower to stick to it. Rome was not built in a day and neither training for the Cape Town marathon!