After every new year, we are blessed with a window of opportunity to start fresh. You scribble a list of goals that you want to accomplish. But within a few months, even worse – a few weeks, things begin to lapse into their former state. Jotting down your new year’s resolution isn’t bad, but not being able to follow them through is. And it’s not just you; numerous others fail to execute their new year goals. So why do we fail to keep up our new year’s resolution? Is it only because of procrastination, or are there other significant scientific aspects behind it? Let’s find out. 

  • Your resolutions are vague – It’s pretty to easy to jot down actions such as “lose weight” or “exercise more”. But the reason why they don’t translate into actions is because of its vagueness. The goals can be perceived as almost anything, and hence, the necessity to take action has not been stressed enough. The solution? Be specific about what, how and why you want to achieve a particular goal. Instead of merely writing down “lose weight”, write “lose 2 kgs within two months and start jogging for an hour every Friday”. 
  • Resolutions with the wrong perspective – Often, our goals themselves unwillingly create obstacles to fulfilling them. When we term our goals as “Stop eating junk food” we are putting more emphasis on the negative aspect of the target, i.e. ‘junk food’. Instead, if the same goal is coined as “Start having healthy meals every day” will encourage us to take action. 

So, here’s what we can do to curate our goals better, to ensure that they are implemented throughout 2020 –

  • Keep it simple – One of the common mistakes people make is that they cram their entire notebook with resolutions and eventually lose track of it all. Instead, you should take time to deeply think about the fundamental changes that are required in your life and jot them down accordingly. Warren Buffett is famous for his “5/25 strategy” which implies that you jot down 25 goals, mark the top 5 goals from them and start taking action on those marked; putting the 20 on hold until you achieve the ones marked. The same tactic can be applied for your resolutions; to help you focus on a few sets of goals, accomplish them and proceed onto the others. 
  • Be realistic – Many tend to get an overdose of inspiration on new year’s eve and start listing resolutions that are not realistic. So instead of aspiring to earn 100k more this year, simply focus on making 12k every month. The goal is small, requires follow-up every month and sounds accomplishable. 
  • Follow-up – Planning a resolution is not just about writing it on paper and stepping into the battlefield. Instead, it requires meticulous planning and thorough follow-ups. In case you fail to meet your goal for a month, don’t let it shatter your dedication. Instead, step back and analyze the barriers and devise plans on how to go past them in the upcoming months. 
  • Beware of the incentives – Rewards are good for incentivizing you to implement your resolutions. However, beware of the rewards breaking your hard-earned habit and relapsing you to the same old you. For example, don’t get into a junk food spree after a month of conscious dieting. Instead, maybe go and reward yourself with a smoothie, something that will be sufficient to give you a sense of accomplishment, but also small enough not to put you into your previous loop. 
  • Team up – Our ability to stick our goals increase manifold when others tag along in the pursuit of achieving it. Maybe you are planning to reignite your habit of reading books. Simply reach out to your bookworm friend and plan an entire year of activity – you two will exchange books, talk about the books that you have finished every month and maybe challenge each other to read pieces of your favourite authors. Collectively trying to accomplish a goal creates a sense of healthy competition and urges you to push towards achieving it even more.

According to U.S. News & World Report, the failure rate for New Year’s resolutions is said to be about 80 per cent, and most lose their resolve by mid-February. So it’s pretty evident how challenging it is to live up to and execute all the plans that you’ll be making at the beginning of each year. In short, make your goals SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. Muster all your courage and march ahead. As Charles Duhigg, author of “The Power of Habit” likes to put it “If you’re building a habit, you’re planning for the next decade, not the next couple of months.”. So, let the goals of this year not only bring the best of you for 2020; but rather for the rest of your life! 

K Tanzeel Zaman, Subeditor of ICE Today Magazine. He is an avid traveler, aiming to fill up his passport and express his perspective of the world through his write-ups.