Your 2017 resolutions have probably failed – why? - 27th January 2017

81% of all New Year’s Resolutions fail.*

At least 8 times out of 10, you are more likely to fall back into your old habits and patterns than you are to stick with a new behaviour. So many more of you will answer yes to the title of this piece than no!

Why? Because changing habits is really hard. If we do it right, it’s well worth the trouble as it’s our habits that make the difference to our lives. There is nothing new to this. Aristotle famously said, “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” And he was around a while ago now (even before social media!).

What is new is a deeper understanding of why we might fail and how to counter that. I’m reading a fascinating book at the moment, The Power of Habits. More of that soon. For now, which one of the reasons below is behind your failure to stick to a new habit this year?

Top 5 reasons habits fail:

  1. You try to change everything at once. It’s too much, too soon.
  1. You start with a habit that’s too big. You get overwhelmed and frustrated that you aren’t making progress.
  1. You’re seeking a result, not establishing a ritual you can stick with. You’re focusing on the outcome, not the actual behaviour.
  1. You don’t change your environment. We rarely admit it (or even realize it), but our behaviours are often a simple response to the environment we find ourselves in.
  1. You assume small changes don’t add much. The underlying assumption is that your achievements need to be big to make a difference. Because of this, we always talk ourselves into chasing a big habit. Refer back to point 1!

If your resolution has failed, don’t despair. You can try again. And you don’t need to wait until next January to do so. Why not start again today? Or tomorrow? Or Sunday? Every day is the same really; we just label them differently with our calendar. You don’t need a new year, a new month, a new week even. Just tomorrow.

If the end result was worth changing your habits, it’s worth trying again. What’s stopping you?

*Research done by John Norcross, US psychologist, New York