Are you making these New Year’s resolution mistakes?

As we’re approaching the end of the year, many of us will set intentions for the coming year. Unfortunately, the data shows that 80% of those New Year’s resolutions won’t stick, and will be forgotten by February. 

If you’re making any of the following New Year’s resolution mistakes, you might be in that 80%. Keep reading to learn how to actually make those resolutions happen!

MISTAKE #1: YOU’RE FOCUSED ON THE WRONG THING. 

Usually, we picture our goals when talking about New Year’s resolutions. Goals are the end result that you might imagine creating, such as losing weight, publishing a book, etc. If you’re particularly evolved, you might think about changing your beliefs: the self-image, assumptions, and biases which form your identity. This can look like wanting to be a more patient person, a more loving daughter, or a more powerful leader. 

However, neither of these is the fastest, most powerful, or most reliable pathway to change. That award goes to your habits

Habits are the processes, behaviors, and systems with which you live your life, such as workout routines, meditation practice, etc. You might think you make decisions all day long, but 40% of the actions you perform each day are actually habits.

Habits might not seem as sexy as New Year’s resolutions, but don’t be fooled. The most effective way of changing who you are and of achieving your goals is to change what you do.   

“If you change your behavior, your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions will change.”

Dr. Andrew Huberman, neuroscientist

MISTAKE #2: YOU DON’T HAVE A ROUTINE.

Strong routines are your first line of defense against uncertainty and instability. Morning, transition, and evening routines are especially critical to maintaining flow, ease, and sanity. 

Creating a new habit starts with a new ROUTINE.  If you’re stuck in the rut of a bad habit or you want to build a new one, a new routine will help you establish and embody something new. PRO TIP: Stack new habits on existing ones that work. Do your new habit AFTER your existing habit. (ie: “after I shower, I will floss.”)

The brain is constantly looking for ways to save effort. It tries to economize. This doesn’t mean you’re lazy – it’s normal. And this is why habits and routines are so powerful. 

MISTAKE #3: YOU DON’T HAVE ACCOUNTABILITY. 

You’ll be much more likely to succeed if you share your intentions with someone else. Check out the following statistics on how likely people are to complete a goal based on the factors listed: 

  • Having an idea or goal: 10% likely to complete the goal
  • Consciously deciding that you will do it: 25% likely
  • Deciding when you will do it: 40% likely
  • Planning how to do it: 50% likely
  • Committing to someone that you will do it: 65% likely
  • Having a specific accountability appointment with someone you’ve committed to: 95% likely

You can create accountability agreements with your coach, your friends, your partner, or your colleagues. Don’t try to do it alone – stay humble and don’t overestimate yourself. It’s very easy to get off track. People who are overconfident often burn out and then stop trying. 

MISTAKE #4: YOU’RE TRYING TOO HARD. 

Motivation and willpower support short term behavior change, not long term behavior change. In the long term, BALANCE and SUSTAINABILITY are more important than willpower in creating new habits. The ideal is balance between driving forward and nurturing yourself — too much of either extreme leads to problems. 

Similarly, your new habits need to be sustainable or you’ll stop doing them after only a short period of time. Making change tiny is the best way to create lasting change. If what you’re wanting to do is too difficult, make your action even smaller. Start with one new habit, not multiple habits. 

And finally, don’t give yourself a pass. A daily habit is much easier to establish than an infrequent one. Strive for consistency, track your streaks, and add a value to not breaking one (for instance, that if you do a certain behavior for 30 days or 7 days you will earn a reward).

When you imagine yourself at the end of 2021, what would you like to be able to say were different than it is now? Ignore COVID and sheltering in place for the moment and focus on what you can actually do — sustainably — that would produce greater balance and joy. 

What new habits will you set into motion in 2021?

To your success,