Why Most People Fail At New Year’s Resolutions

For those of us brave enough to still make New Year’s Resolutions, it’s important to know what we’re up against. It’s tough to change our habits, and it doesn’t help that the media loves to publish statistics showing that most people fail at resolutions.

This is perverse. When someone goes out on a limb to better themselves, we should line the streets and cheer them on. But not like they do in Cleveland.

Cheer Them On, Not Jeer Them On

This Saturday, Cleveland Browns fans are throwing a parade for their team. They’ve got floats and sponsors, and even though it’s forecasted to be 0 degrees outside, they’re expecting a big turnout.

They will be marching counter-clockwise around their stadium in a route shaped like a giant zero. The Browns went 0-16 this season and their fans are going to rub it in their faces.

They are going to line the streets to celebrate their team’s failure.

Hard to fault the long-suffering fan base for wanting to jeer instead of cheer. The Browns have been stinking up the NFL for decades. They went 4-48 the past three seasons, and have finished a season with a winning record only 10 times in the past 40 years.  And in the frigid conditions of their outdoor stadium on the shores of Lake Erie, the Browns really do stink on ice.

Why Most People Fail At New Year’s Resolutions

But you’re not the Cleveland Browns. Yet one of the reasons most people fail at resolutions is the fear they will be jeered by their fans. Maybe not as outrageously as in Cleveland, but people fear the subtle mockery of family, friends, and co-workers.

People are afraid to commit to resolutions because everyone around them secretly wants them to fail. If you succeed in the presence of others, those others tend to feel bad about themselves. You would have done something that maybe they should have done.

When people don’t change themselves for the better, they look for outside proof that their lives can’t be improved. This helps them feel good about where they are.

But seeing you succeed makes them feel like someone’s rubbing their face in it. So when you lose, they secretly win.

They don’t have to work hard to change themselves. They can stay the way they are. They can avoid the fear of their own failing and simply enjoy your failure.

The Other Reason

Fear of failure is one of the big reasons people fail to keep their promises to themselves. But it’s not the biggest reason.

There’s a secret formula for success in sticking to a resolution. But most people don’t know this. Instead, they position their resolutions in a way that pretty much guarantees they won’t succeed.

People fail because they vow to achieve an outcome instead of vowing to perform the activities that will bring about the outcome.

The Big Secret To Resolution Success

Here it is, plain and simple. You can’t manage an outcome. You can only manage activity.

That’s right. You can’t vow to lose a certain amount of weight and be successful most of the time. But if you vow to manage the activities that lead to weight loss, you can succeed most of the time.

So instead of resolving to lose x number of pounds, resolve to do the things that will result in you losing those pounds. Resolve to drink 4 liters of water and exercise 30 minutes every day. Resolve to halve your sugar intake and double your vegetable intake. Resolve to replace burgers with salads and sodas with water.

Manage the activity, and you will produce the outcome.

Resolve To Resolve Successfully

So with this in mind, take another look at your resolutions. Make sure they are not outcomes. Make sure they are activities that will lead to the outcomes you desire.

Understand that most resolutions are probably long-term goals that require specific, consistent behaviors to achieve. So break your resolutions down into the daily behaviors you need to perform. Then manage those behaviors. If you manage the activities, the outcomes will take care of themselves.

And if you’re in Cleveland over the weekend, stop by FirstEnergy Stadium, also known as the Factory of Sadness. Excedrin and the dating site Farmers Only are sponsoring the parade (really!). Maybe you’ll get a free hang-over cure, and come home with your very own farmer’s daughter story…

 

 

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