Most of us have set a New Year’s goal or resolution. Whether it’s to cut back on the after-dinner drinks a bit, or to go to the gym every day, or to read a book every week, January is a time that many individuals set high goals to better themselves. However, how many times do you actually reach the end of that year and find you’ve stuck with those goals? Did you actually read 50 books? Did you go to the gym every single day?
According to statistics, for those who make New Year’s resolutions, about 25% of those individuals fail to meet the parameters of that resolution by the end of the year’s first week. After about a month, nearly 40% of those individuals have abandoned their resolution. After six months, that number climbs to more than half. By the end of the year, less than 10% of goal-setters think they’ve met their goal.
It’s enough to make anyone feel like they should just give up completely. After all, if you have less than a 10% chance of overall success, why even try?
Well, humans like goals. Even if you don’t feel like you’re all that motivated to reach your work goals or academic goals or even fitness goals, there are probably some goals that you enjoy (even if it’s just to catch up on streaming the entire next season of your favourite show).
Psychology shows that goal setting activates certain parts of our minds that help to promote concentration and engagement. As one mental health expert notes, “When we fail to direct our attention and focus through goal setting, we can more easily get distracted and lose the motivation needed to create the life we desire and deserve.”
So, if the actual goal setting in of itself isn’t a bad thing, where are we going wrong? Could it be that we just need to change our approaches to our goals, in order to actually see them through?
Why Do New Year’s Resolutions Fail?
There are many reasons why our New Year’s resolutions fail.
According to the statistics linked above, some of the most popular reasons for failure include:
Setting unrealistic goals
Not keeping track of progress
Setting too many resolutions
Simply forgetting about our resolutions
You might also just find that you run out of steam as the year drags on, leaving you with little motivation to pursue your goals further. You might also find that the goal you set in January isn’t really the goal you wanted to set at all — leading you to abandon it rather than recalibrate.
Seeing success in your goal setting requires thoroughly examining your broader life goals and what you want to accomplish, knowing your own habits and patterns, and creating goals based on both of those facets.
How to Set Healthy New Year's Resolutions for 2022
The best thing you can do to set a healthy, achievable New Year’s resolution for 2022? Realize that an all-or-nothing attitude — while sometimes helpful in the short term — can actually be less helpful for you overall, in the long term. When your mantra is “everything or nothing,” when you happen to simply make a mistake or drop the ball for a moment, you’re all too likely to just abandon your goals entirely versus trying again tomorrow.
So, when setting a New Year’s resolution — whatever that resolution may be — take a healthier approach by not viewing your resolution as an ultimatum. Instead, view it as an ever-evolving goal that you want to strive toward on a daily basis. Think of it as a gradual lifestyle change, versus a 180-degree turn around.
After all, if you haven’t worked out for three years, it’s not likely that you’re going to make it to the gym five days each week.
Another healthy approach to goal setting is to simply not get overly specific. For example, if you want to improve your overall well-being, rather than setting a goal to go to the gym every day, not eat any refined sugar and only drink on the weekends, maybe keep things a little more open-ended. This allows for flexibility and the space to give yourself some grace. So, your resolution might simply be to “live a healthier lifestyle.” This is a broad resolution that will allow you to change up your actions and activities on a daily basis, allowing you to actually live your life while still pursuing your goal. So long as you look back on the last week, month and, eventually, year, and see progress toward healthier living, you’ve achieved your goal.
If, though, you prefer a specific goal, try to still make that specific resolution easier on yourself by…
Setting smaller, more achievable sub-goals (so maybe you start at going to the gym twice per week versus five times per week as soon as the calendar turns to January)
Identifying how you’ll measure your success (is it really about days in the gym, or is it more about weight loss or muscle mass built?)
Making sure your goals — overarching or sub — are actually realistic for who you are as a person
Allowing yourself to make the occasional mistake and then try again the next day
Realizing that even meeting your goal by 50% or 75% is still a success — even only reaching 25% of your goal is still an improvement over the last year!
Potential Healthy Resolutions for the Best 2022 Possible
At Flow, we like to think that New Year’s resolutions should focus on whatever you can do to make yourself feel as well as possible. And we’re not just talking about feeling physically well. Mental wellness is just as important. While sometimes New Year’s resolutions can benefit both your physical and mental health (as anyone who works out their frustrations at the gym can tell you), mental health-specific goals are just as valuable as their physical counterparts.
Some of these healthful New Year’s resolutions — all on the more general side — might include:
Spending more time doing what you love
Making time to spend time with the people who energise and invigorate you
Creating a healthy work-life balance
Becoming more active in your daily life
Treating yourself with positivity and grace
Trying something new on a regular basis
But if you like specific resolutions, you can also go with healthful, very positive and very specific goals that are easier to accomplish than you think, such as:
Training your mind with meditation
Drinking more water
Saying “thank you” more
Practicing mindful eating
Practical Tips and Tricks of Achieving Your Resolutions
We’ve included a lot of practical tips and tricks for achieving your resolutions above, but to recap, here are a few things you can do to better your chances at resolution success, no matter what your resolution may be.
Don’t make too many resolutions. Only choose one or a few.
Only choose resolutions that are personally meaningful to you.
Write your resolutions down and keep that note somewhere visible.
Make a resolution in tandem with a friend, coworker or family member.
Celebrate your smallest progress.
Acknowledge your losses, but then make sure to try again tomorrow.
Acknowledge why a setback happened and then see how you can avoid similar setbacks later.
Don’t allow a setback to ruin your resolution or your mood.
Don’t feel pressured to start in January, if that’s not a good month for you (just make sure to plan an actual start date!).
And if resolutions just aren’t your thing? That’s totally fine! Resolutions aren’t for everyone, so if you don’t find that they work for you, don’t feel pressured to set them. You can find your own goal-setting tactic that works best for your personality traits.
Additionally, avoid the temptation to compare your resolutions to others’. Just because your friend or a family member set what feels like a big, audacious goal to you, don’t compare their journey to yours; keep your eyes on your own paper.
For Achieving Your Mental Health Resolutions, Flow Can Help
If you’ve set a mental health-focused resolution or goal, Flow can help. Did you know that meditation has many science-based health benefits, such as…
Reducing overall stress?
Reducing overall anxiety?
Increasing emotional health?
Increasing self awareness?
Increasing attention span?
Reducing memory loss?
If all of these changes sound like exactly what you need going into the New Year, check out Flow’s VR and web-based meditation offerings. Through the power of immersive and accessible technology, you can enjoy the sights and sounds of Icelandic nature, as you relax, recharge and refocus.