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2021 New Year resolutions - do they work?

Updated: Jan 18, 2021

Resolutions and goals for 2021!
New Year resolutions 2021!

How many of you have set a New Year resolution for 2021? And how many of you have already given up? You are certainly not alone!! According to Reaume & Park (2018), 3 in 10 Canadians make resolutions, and 73% forget about them by March. I have even read research suggesting people stop by the 7th January! So why do people give up so quickly? It seems to relate to how achievable the resolution is. A resolution is often a promise to ourselves on how we can alter some aspect of our life. Resolutions can be rather unclear and open ended which means the outcome will be rather vague.

Resolutions are often a decision whether you are going to do something or not. Examples are: I am going to lose weight; I am going to stop eating chocolate; I am going to stop smoking etc. They are very definitive and rigid. To be honest, they could be setting you up for failure as there is no time frame or a process to follow, which makes them hard to sustain.

Healthy diet choices
Substituting fruit for chocolate!

Goals, however, are more direction orientated and fluid where there is a process or a series of steps to follow to achieve an outcome.

How can you make resolutions work then?

This is where some reframing can go on. Resolutions and goals can go hand in hand. Instead of setting vague and unattainable resolutions, think about what you want to achieve (your resolution) and then try breaking it down into smaller segments (your goals and process) and then integrate this into your life. For instance; if your resolution is to run your first marathon this year, start off small. Work on running and being active 3-4 days a week. Slowly build up so you run more each week and then a month. By monitoring your progress you will see how much you are improving.

Let me give you a few ideas to help you stick to your resolution!

1. S.M.A.R.T.

Work on keeping your resolutions and goals simple, measurable, attainable, realistic and in a reasonable time frame.

2. Write them down.

Another good way is to write down your resolution. Put them on a wall or somewhere for you to see. This will re-enforce what you want to achieve.

3. Tell people about them.

This one can be a little scary! By announcing your resolutions, you are making them known to your friends. It then means, there is pressure to do them!!

4. Understand your "why" for your resolution

Finding your "why" can be quite hard. But ask yourself "why' you do want to achieve this resolution? What is driving you? Think about asking yourself or get someone close to ask you "why" 5 times and this will help funnel down to your core reason for accomplishing your resolution.

5. Avoid these common mistakes.

Try not to be too keen. This is particularly common with losing weight or fitness resolutions. Make sure you are realistic and set yourself reasonable goals to achieve over a period of time. So for instance with improving your fitness, build up slowly and give yourself rest weeks and days off for your body to recover. Also stick with a plan and don't switch too quickly to another program before you have given it chance to work.

6. Accountability.

Be accountable to someone! Ask a friend, get a coach or trainer, or cajole a workout buddy to join you. Get someone to help you to be accountable.

7. Lack of time excuse.

We often feel time short and make justifiable excuses not to complete whatever we had planned for that day or week. I do get it; making time can be hard, particularly if you have a demanding job, family commitments etc. However, planning ahead will really help set you up for success and hopefully free up some time. OK, I can hear you sigh. But changing your mindset and thinking HOW YOU CAN make a little bit of extra time, will help you achieve your resolution. Sit down once a week and plan out your meals, exercise time, whatever your it is that will help you achieve your resolution and then stick to it!

So New Year resolutions can definitely work with a little refocus! Let me know how you get on!! Good Luck!!

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