The year is coming to an end already - I can't believe it!

If you're like millions of people, you're getting ready to set your New Year's resolutions for next year. Well, today, I've got some bad news for you. According to a study by British psychologist Richard Wiseman, 88% of New Year's resolutions are broken.

I love setting big goals at the beginning of the year. I used to excitedly announce my resolution over a glass of champagne at a party, just to watch it fail within a couple months. This year, I did things differently. Rather than stating a big goal, I wrote down my goal as specifically as possible. Then I broke down the goal into small goals so I knew what I'd need to achieve every month, every week, and every single day in order to stay on track to achieve my goal. I created time and space in my life to make my big goal a priority. I told a loved one my goal to help keep me on track.

This year, rather than quickly failing at my goal and getting frustrated, my results were completely different. I crushed my goal.

Here are some reasons resolutions fail so frequently, and a better way to set your goals.

1. New Year's resolutions are typically not specific.

Resolutions such as "I want to be healthy" or "I want to lose weight" are too vague and have a high risk for failure. Make your goal more specific. Then write down your goal and keep it posted somewhere for you to see it every day. Studies show that just writing down your goal makes you more likely to achieve it.

2. They don't include a "how-to" plan.

When many people set New Year's resolutions, they choose a lofty goal yet make no specific plan to achieve it. That's how I used to do it, too. It's very important to address the habits required to achieve your goal. Focusing on developing the habits you need to achieve your long-term goals is extremely important and often neglected. Write down exactly what you need to do each day to achieve your long-term goal.

3. They aren't meaningful enough to you.

Find your why. Why do you want to achieve your goal? Your why is something personal and meaningful to you. It's important to have a strong why. If you don't have a strong enough why, it will be much tougher to get motivated on the days you don't feel like achieving your goal.

4. They don't require you to be ALL IN.

Go all in with your goal. Your definition of going all in will be unique to your personality and your situation, but figuring out a way to be fully committed to your goal is essential to your success.

Here's an example of re-writing a New Year's resolution into a specific goal:

Resolution: I want to eat healthy foods.

Now we'll break that down into something much better:

  • Specific goal: I will bring a healthy snack to work 4 days per week instead of visiting the vending machine.
  • Habit: Beginning in January, I will replace my afternoon junk food snack with an apple with peanut butter and a bottle of water. Every Monday, I will bring 4 apples to work so I'll be able to eat them throughout the week. I'll keep my refillable water bottle and jar of peanut butter in my desk. I'll remove the stash of money from my desk that I've used in the past to buy snacks from the vending machine. At 3 p.m., when I typically take a break to walk to the vending machine and eat some junk food, instead I will now have my healthy snack and socialize with a coworker for a few minutes before returning to my work duties.
  • Why: I want to feel great as I train for an upcoming 5k race, I want to look amazing for my vacation to the beach in 6 months.
  • Being all in: If you had to give your coworker $500 every time you went to the vending machine, would that stop you? Of course it would! Figure out how you can be all in.

You must have a vision of what achieving the goal is like. Get away, someplace peaceful and inspiring, and write down the details about it. What is your life like when achieving your goal? How do you feel when eating healthy? Do you have more energy and mental clarity? Are you less sluggish in the afternoons at work? What do you look like? What do others say about you? How does it feel to make healthy choices at the grocery store? Be as specific as possible.

Once you have set a resolution with specific goals and habits in writing, then what do you do?

Find an accountability partner. Having people in your tribe that encourage you makes all the difference.

Cheers to 2016 and to making it the best year ever!


Photo credit:flickr.com/Victor/New Year's Party