Becoming the 8% or: How I Plan on Sticking to My New Year's Resolutions
Updated: Jan 24
By this time, most people have given up on their New Year's resolutions. In fact, it's been pinned down to the exact week between January 12th and 19th that the majority of those who have made resolutions have let them lapse. Actually, January the 19th has even become known as "Quitter's Day," as it is statistically the most likely day for folks to say goodbye to their goals for the year and return to their old ways. And by the second week in February, around 80% will have forfeited their ambitions.
It's kinda sad, when you think about it, but that's just reality. People get too comfortable in their ways, and setting new goals to extinguish their bad habits or start some new ones by picking such an arbitrary date as New Year's Day is simply not enough for most people to follow through. Others tend to thrive on a fresh start like a brand new year, though these people are seemingly few and far between. In fact, just an estimated 8% of people who set resolutions for the new year actually achieve their goals by the end of those 12 months. Just 8%!
Part of the problem is that people aren't using specific, measurable goals like "lose 20 pounds in the first six months," but rather opt for something more generic like "get into shape." Other times, they simply set too many overly ambitious goals that eventually become overwhelming, or they aim for something that they don't actually want or need, which lacks desire and thus determination.
Trust me, I know what I'm talking about. I've been setting goals every New Year for longer than I care to admit, and I have failed at a rate I'd rather not remember. But I keep trying because I love "fresh starts" and "clean slates," even though I know that January 1st is really just another day on the calendar, not unlike the other 364. So what then makes this year any different? Well, as I said in my last post, 2020 was a year unlike any other. It allowed me to realize just how fragile our system and we ourselves are. But it also proved that we are impressively adaptable and resilient. It made me appreciate the small things more so than ever before, and forced me to reanalyze the way I am living my life, or not living it to be more accurate. It opened my eyes, so to speak.
So, last December, I set out to define some new standards for myself going into 2021. I sat down and came up with 10 resolutions/goals that I want to achieve in this new year, my reset year. Some are more ambitious than others and some are going to take more time, but they are all achievable and important to me personally. That's the first step, making your goals important to yourself rather than coming up with resolutions that others might be impressed by. Do it 100% for yourself, that's important.
This blog is another tool for attaining my goals, as it not only holds me accountable to all those who might read it (I also shared my resolutions on social media btw), but allows for anybody who (for some reason) wants to come back and monitor my progress, including myself. I plan on giving updates as I go along, which is another way to keep you in the zone. If I didn't have this blog, that would make it all the easier for me to just forfeit, forget, and fumble back into my old ways. This not only serves as a reminder but as my sort of accountability report. For others, it might be a Facebook post or an accountability buddy or group. Others are fine thriving in silence.
Outside of this blog, I have set up a physical calendar on my "vision board" that allows me to easily keep track of the days I have meditated and the amount of steps I take each day (these are parts of my goals in case you're wondering), as well as a tracker on my phone to allow me to follow along digitally. I have a white board that I can't miss, filled with my goals, micro ambitions, challenge reminders, etc. It is in plain site, so I never miss it. I also have an Excel spreadsheet that is never closed on my laptop, allowing me to track my spending, and I use the Goodreads app/site to organize the books I want to/have read during 2021. There are plenty of things you can do to keep you on your toes...you just have to find the right ones that work best for you. I recommend Googling ideas that best fit your own circumstances or behaviors.
It is also helpful to write things down, to plan ahead, to make 1% improvements at a time, and set yourself up for micro achievements that snowball into bigger ones. Have a journal, a whiteboard, or an app that allows you to record your specific and realistic goals, set up reminders, keep track of your progress, and try to reward yourself (not with an ice cream cake!). Make a list of the things you want to achieve each and every day, even if they are tiny, and check them off as you go along. Nothing feels better than crossing off a list of to-do's, especially when they contribute to the bigger picture bit by bit.
"While you are waiting for the long-term rewards of your efforts to accumulate, you need a reason to stick with it in the short-term,” says James Clear, author of the best-seller Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones. “You need some immediate feedback that shows you are on the right path." By the way, listening to empowering podcasts, watching self-development YouTubers, or reading motivational books (like Clear's) can really contribute to your process. Use as many tools as possible to help you become the person you want to be.
Make sure you always remain mindful at every moment. Be aware of the thoughts you're having, of the auto-pilot responses and the decisions you make in your daily routines, and of how you feel throughout the day, and try to make the best decisions for your cause. For example, if you're hungry and the first thing that comes to mind is a bowl of chips, make sure you're aware of these thoughts and then think about how you would feel after you ate those chips (guilt, frustration, disappointment, even anger). Think about what might be a better option for you to quench your hunger and then actually follow through. Hide the chips or get rid of them altogether. Set yourself up for success by diminishing as many obstacles as possible and replacing them with beneficial options instead. Don't give into those knee jerk reactions...wait a minute and allow that temptation to fade. Be mindful at every step and allow yourself to make the right choices that are going to carry you forward into achieving your goals.
Something else to keep in mind is allowing yourself to have moments or even days of defeat. Nobody is perfect, of course, and so we're going to fuck up every now and again, and that's okay. The important thing is that you get back on track, instead of allowing a mess-up to deflate your entire progress and return to the "comfortable" norms of last year. You need to remind yourself that discomfort is okay, that mistakes happen, that resolutions take time and effort, and that returning to your old ways is unacceptable.
It is so easy to just go back to how things have always been, especially during a pandemic that allows us to use it as an excuse. If you feel like you're starting to fall back, picture yourself in December 2021 and how proud you would be if you had maintained your momentum and stuck with your goals...where would you be? How happy would you be? How hyped would you be to go even further? Just imagine....
Perhaps the most important thing is to have the desire to achieve these particular goals of mine. Without that, my chances of success are almost non-existent. I have wanted to achieve some of these goals for many years now, and I have failed for many years now. This year just feels different, as I've stated earlier. I don't know what it is, but I just know THIS will be the year that I finally join the 8% club. Don't believe me? Watch me!