2 Tips for New Year’s Resolution Success

The “resolution season” is fast upon us. With the flip of a calendar page (or more likely the swipe of a finger) we enter a new year and on cue decide to make changes. Yet statistics show that a mere 8% of us are successful in achieving our New Year’s resolutions.

One might ask with such dismal odds, why do we even bother with resolutions? The simple answer: it’s a habit.  The more complex answer is for another blog post.

This blog post is about improving your odds for achieving New Year’s resolution success this year.

First a personal resolution story. Several years ago, I resolved to 1) drink a glass of water every morning and 2) create a weekly meal plan. By April, I was well-hydrated every morning, but my meal planning was sporadic. By June the meal planning was a thing of the past. Years later, I am still drinking a glass of water every morning. Why did that resolution become part of the 8%?

Tip One: Keep it simple

Drinking a glass of water in the morning is simple. Faucet on. Glass filled. Drink. Done. It takes 2 seconds. It involves no one but me. In contrast, take the most popular resolution: “lose weight.” Losing weight often requires a lot of smaller resolutions: a change in eating habits, a change in grocery shopping habits, which can impact and create a change in spending habits. You might also need a change in exercise habits, which can impact a change in priorities, a change in schedulea change in…the list goes on. When you break it down, losing weight is complicated. It is about changing many habits simultaneously.

Tip: Break down your resolution. Is it one change or really many changes? Are you in complete control of the change or are others people impacting your ability to achieve your goal? How can you simplify the change so you will succeed? For example, instead of “lose weight,” might a simpler, easy-to-accomplish resolution be “eat salads whenever possible?”

Tip Two: Plan for failure

The numbers don’t lie. Your odds of success are low. But that is doesn’t mean you should lose faith in your ability to create meaningful change. Just be aware that setbacks and failures are part of the deal. Plan accordingly.

As part of the plan, I recommend making TWO resolutions. Research shows that your overall odds of success go down with each resolution you add. Less is definitely more. With two, if (and likely when) one fails, you still have a fallback position. When my meal planning faltered, my resolution program was not a total bust. I reminded myself I was still drinking water every AM. It felt good. I was hopeful and reasonably confident that I had created a new habit.  It was enough to spur me forward. I redoubled my efforts to make the remaining resolution a success.

Tip: Expect and accept that “resolution abandonment” is part of the program. Don’t let it get you down. Plan for it.

Sending wishes for a happy, transformative year!