New Year Resolutions? You’ll have forgotten them within a couple of weeks

Here is how to make those resolutions stick

Graham Jones

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Here we are, at the start of 2021 and within days the resolutions people have made will be ditched. Research shows that most New Year Resolutions never make it beyond 14th January.

However, people make New Year Resolutions because they want to change. They want to lose weight, give up smoking or do something like learn how to use LinkedIn better. But those resolutions are generalised wishes, made in the emotional intensity of celebrating one year and looking forward to the next one, surrounded by your loved ones. A few days later, you are back at work, knee-deep in email and harassed by bosses and their deadlines. You don’t have the chance to think of resolutions anymore — work gets in the way.

But that’s a shame. After all, you thought about your wishes for the coming year and what you wanted to change, so there is some sound reasoning behind your desires for 2021 — especially after the past 12 months. The trouble is, practicalities and work prevent you from realising your dreams for the year.

So, how can you ensure that your resolutions succeed? How do you make resolutions stick?

The first thing is to realise that most resolutions are just weak expressions of some desire. They are rarely detailed and specific. Now, don’t go thinking I want us all to start having “SMART” goals for the year. You know what that means — Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Timely. However, SMART goals are not all that they are cracked up to be.

There is plenty of psychological research which shows that SMART goals are, frankly, useless.

The reason is that we underestimate what we can accomplish, we overestimate the time it will take, and we have little real idea of what we can achieve or how to measure it. In other words, SMART goals tend to be things which we could do with our hands tied up and our eyes shut. They are just weak. My friend David Hyner spends a great deal of his time convincing people to set massive, huge, seemingly unrealistic goals. He is right; the research shows that individuals who do this tend to be more successful than those who set everyday “SMART” goals.

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Graham Jones

Graham Jones is an Internet Psychologist who helps business understand online customer behaviour http://www.grahamjones.co.uk