Every year you make resolutions that you don’t keep. According to a survey conducted by the University of Scranton, published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology in January 2014, the top resolutions that are never kept are:
Another resolution that people make and break is learning a language. That one wasn’t mentioned in the survey but I’ll talk about it some more later on. But why is it that we’re making resolutions that we know ahead of time that we can’t keep? Your resolutions should be quantifiable and achievable. This year we should all make resolutions that we can achieve and by achieving them we’ll feel better about ourselves allow us, in turn, to achieve more. Let’s take a look at why each of the above resolutions are a call for failure and how we can improve our resolutions to make them work for us in a positive way.
1. Lose weight Instead of just saying that we want to lose weight in 2015 what we should be doing is fixing obtainable objectives and breaking them down to smaller milestones. If you want to lose 10 kilos next year then aim for 1 kg per month.
2. Getting organized This is too vague. In what ways? Where? How? Setting a resolution which has a more specific objective increases your chances of keeping it. A better resolution would be worded more like this: “Organize my desk at work and keep it organized by taking 15 minutes to file all the papers before I leave at the end of each day.”
3. Spend less, save more Again this resolution needs more detail. This is a resolution that can be quantified so a better resolution would not only say “how” but also “how much”. Example: “Set up a …. account with an automatic transfer of 100 € per month.”
4. Enjoy life to the fullest This is an invitation to failure. Don’t put these types of resolutions on your list because you’ll never feel like you’ve obtained it. There’s no way to say “hey look at that, I’m enjoying life to the fullest, let me check it off my list”. Of course we all want to enjoy life to the fullest. This shouldn’t be a resolution but a general life rule. We’ll never feel like we’re really enjoying life to the fullest because there’ll always be a trip that we’d like to take or a past time we’d like to have more time to do. Leave your list of resolutions for things you can identify when they’ve been accomplished.
5. Staying fit and healthy This is also too vague. Say exactly how you’re going to stay fit and healthy. Example: “Replace my lunch time soda pop with a glass of water”. This is do-able and not shooting for the moon. By doing that one small thing you’ll have drank approximately 150L of water in 2015, you’ll have taken in 50 000 less calories and saved about 650 € (taken from the book “Small change” by Susan and Larry Terkel). If you know that you’ll never be a health nut, then why not just choose one small obtainable goal and once it becomes part of your lifestyle then choose another “small change”?
6. Learn something exciting This shouldn’t be hard to keep. I don’t know why people fail at keeping this resolution. Perhaps it’s not specific enough. Maybe a better resolution would be “Make an appointment at ABC skydiving school”. That’s an easy resolution to keep. You’ll feel good about yourself once you make that first step and that positive feeling will encourage you to do more exciting things.
7. Quit smoking If you know you can’t quit smoking, why keep putting it on your list of resolutions? Instead of putting yourself in a situation where you end up feeling bad about yourself, why not choose an obtainable goal that you’re sure to keep and reward yourself with the positive feeling of keeping one of your resolutions. Re-word it in a way that you’re sure to keep, example: “Cut down to one pack of cigarettes per week”.
8. Help others in their dreams You can’t keep this resolution if you don’t know anyone who’s pursuing their dreams or who needs you. If you know of someone who needs you then yes put it on your list.
9. Fall in love Anyone who puts this one on their list of resolutions knows nothing about love. You can’t put it on your list of resolutions because you can’t control when you’ll fall in love. Leave that to your list of hopes and not your list of resolutions.
10. Spend more time with family You’ll never feel like you’ve spent enough time with your family so I suggest you quantify what it is you’d like to achieve. Something like “Implement game night every Friday (every second Wednesday, the first Saturday each month) with ….” This way you’ll know that you are spending more time with your family and that you are keeping your resolution.
Learning a language People keep making this resolution but in my opinion it’s just too large, it needs to be more specific. We’ve all tried joining a class, private lessons or learning online, but for a lot of us we just don’t have time. I’ve made a resolution to learn Spanish this year but what I’m looking for is an e-learning platform that’ll let me work any time of day at my own pace. I need to know that after I sign up there’ll be a teacher following my progress and sending me reports. I also want something that’ll help me with my pronunciation. If you’re looking to improve your English this year you might want to set a specific resolution like for example: “Sign up to an e-learning platform”. Here’s one you should consider: click for more info.
I know so many people who don’t even write resolutions anymore because they don’t see the point. I suggest that we all write them this year but limit our list to no more than 5 specific and achievable resolutions and keep them.
Here are mine for 2015:
What are your resolutions?