More than half of all New Year’s resolutions fail. But you already knew that, didn’t you?
Because you’ve done it, excitedly proclaimed that Everything Is Going To Be Different Next Year after you’ve spent some time pondering where you are in life as the year comes to a close only to find that you didn’t even stick to your resolution till the end of January.
A third of resolutioners don’t make it to the end of January, so you’re not alone.
And you’re not stupid, you know that wishing for it and working for it are two different things.
The ancient Babylonians were already making New Year’s resolutions over 4,000 years ago.
The earliest records we have of throwing celebrations for the new year come from the Babylonians. Though, their year began in mid-March when the crops were planted.
During Akitu, a twelve day religious festival, the Babylonians would crown a new king or reaffirm their loyalty to a reigning king. They promised their gods they’d pay their debts and return any objects they had borrowed (uh-huh, yeah sure).
Keeping your promises would ensure that the gods would bestow their favour on you in the coming year. Failing to keep your promises, meant you’d fall out of favour with the gods – not something anyone strives to do.
The ancient Romans also had a similar practice, after a reform-minded emperor by the name of Julius Caesar decided to tinker with the calendar and establish January 1st as the beginning of a new year, back in 46 BCC.
January had a special significance to the Romans.
January is named for Janus, the two-faced god whose spirit inhabited doorways and arches. They believed that Janus simultaneously looked backwards into the previous year as well as ahead into the coming year, so they made offered sacrifices to Janus and made promises of good behaviour for the coming year.
For the early Christians, the first day of the new year became the traditional time for thinking about your past mistakes and resolving to do better in the coming year.
Today, New Year’s resolutions are mostly a secular practice.
Meaning we’re not promising our gods to do better, but resolving to enact some kind of self-improvement in the coming year. And despite research showing around an 8% success rate for New Year’s resolutions, it’s not going to stop raucous revellers from trying.
So, what to do when you genuinely want to make a change?
Most resolutions fail because they’re a spur-of-the-moment kind of thing. They’re not rooted in your life and the kind of genuinely sustainable change that is possible (and probable) for you right now.
Identifying the right resolution is key.
A resolution can be wrong for so many reasons.
Maybe it’s based on what other people want, rather than what you want. Change driven by societal or peer pressure is rarely gonna stick.
Your resolution needs to be right for you, for where you are in your life right now, and for where you want to go.
Lacking a realistic plan is also going to throw a major wrench into the works when it comes to seeing it through.
Because when you’re creating new habits, there are going to be times when you don’t feel like doing it. You’re gonna feel like procrastinating or just skipping it altogether. Skip doing it once too often, and you’ll start to think it’s okay to not do it at all, and before you know it, poof, it’s gone.
First, you need to identify what matters to you.
That includes finding out what your core values are.
When you’re taking action and building a life that’s rooted in your own core values, following through on it is going to be that much easier.
You’ll have a much larger pool of intrinsic motivation to draw from, which means that when it starts to feel boring, you’ll still show up to do it.
Then, you’ll want to get crystal clear on your goal.
Journaling is by far the best way to achieve that clarity.
I could go on and on about the massive benefits of a journaling practice, and how doing it regularly will transform you into a happier, more fulfilled person living a life that’s tailor-made to you, but suffice it to say, the benefits are off the charts.
However, just dipping your toe in for this one resolution is also incredibly beneficial.
Journaling about your resolution daily, even if you just do it to get over that hump that is January, will drastically increase the likelihood of you actually seeing it through.
When you constantly develop that crystal clear vision of what you truly want, you’ll always be moving towards that specific thing instead of something that’s like a cheap knockoff.
Lastly, define what success looks like for you.
Without knowing what success looks like, you won’t know that you’ve hit that goal.
Again, journaling is an excellent tool to help you define exactly what it is what you want to achieve. It’ll also help you identify obstacles and find a path to that success.
So many people set out to work hard to achieve a goal without knowing when they’ve hit it. Doing it that way will quickly be demotivating because you’ll feel like you’re putting in a lot of work but not getting any closer to achieving it.
You’ll also find yourself backtracking and redoing things more often when you don’t know what success looks like.
Accelerating the pace at which you reach your goals.
This isn’t something you have to do, but if you want to hit the ground running, this trick is priceless.
I know, I know, sounds simplistic, but it works.
In my free Journaling for the Soul course I teach you how to custom-build affirmations to suit you, your life and your goals.
Now, affirmations aren’t magic. You don’t just wish for something for it to fall in your lap.
But they do help shape your micro habits. And micro habits shape your daily reality.
Gratitude is that one thing that can take what you want to do and put it in the express lane.
Are you looking for a way to be more positive in your life?
Check out Thankful, my free journaling course. With it, you’ll learn how to develop a gratitude practise by tapping into your brain’s natural power to form new habits. You’ll be able to see the good in every situation and learn how to appreciate the little things in life.
So, what are you waiting for? Start transforming your mindset right now!