Now that we’re a few weeks into the New Year many Americans are already beginning to fall behind on their resolutions. No matter how well intentioned we are, resolutions just don’t seem to stick for the vast majority of people that set them. A study from the University of Scranton determined that not many people actually achieve their resolutions for the year, and the number decreases as time goes on.
That same study found that by January 15th (two weeks in) the number of people keeping their resolutions has already dropped to 66 percent.
Why do so many people fail to follow through with their resolutions? There are a number of factors that come into play, but the biggest reason is we skip the planning phase and rely on willpower instead. Therein lies another problem – failing to realize that willpower is a finite resource. We use up our precious willpower on everyday tasks that have already been deemed necessary, and therefore, resolutions get pushed to the backburner.
The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America poll looked specifically at health-related goals, which account for two of the top five New Year’s resolutions in the U.S. Their research found that less than 20 percent of people hit their health goals. The common denominator for the group that fell short was lacking the willpower to create new, healthier habits.
No matter which group you fall into you’ve still got 351 days to get things back on track and keep it that way.
Narrow It Down to ONE Thing
Psychologists at the American Psychological Association suggest that people focus on just ONE Thing at a time. Trying to split your focus between numerous goals will stretch your willpower too thin. Once your new healthy habit is fully engrained you can move on to another goal if you want to continue riding the wave of resolution success.
Strengthen Your Willpower
If lack of willpower is the problem, improving it is the solution. Fortunately, there are ways to build up willpower reserves. One of the most effective ways of building your willpower is to make small improvements. Each time you hit a smaller goal on your way to a bigger goal it will give you the motivation you need to push past distracting temptations.
Testing your willpower is the best way to build it up, but only if it’s done in manageable doses. Just like muscles, if willpower is constantly being applied, fatigue is going to set in. To avoid overworking your willpower, give yourself time off to recover.
Envision your success. Roy Baumeister, a willpower expert, discovered that your imagination can help improve self-control. If you imagine indulging in a temptation at a later time it can decrease the present desire. It also helps to think about something else entirely – like how you’ll celebrate when you reach your goal.
Keep stress in check. Stress is a willpower killer. When your mind and body work overtime to deal with stress, your ability to exercise control diminishes. You’re also more likely to default to well-established habits that you are trying to break.
Plot Out Your Path to Success
Setting a goal is just the first step in making it happen. To realize your resolution you’ll need to break your ONE Thing down into smaller, more manageable steps.
Creating pathways for success has been engrained in the Keller Williams Realty culture since the company’s founding. Many of the resources that Gary Keller uses to prioritize and set goals are available on The ONE Thing website.
- Start with the GPS worksheet to identify the goals, priorities, and strategies that will help you achieve your ONE Thing.
- Next, use the 4-1-1 worksheet to plot out specific tasks for the next four weeks.
- Finally, the 66-day calendar can be used to track your progress toward building a new habit that will help you hit your goal.
When you’re creating your daily schedule it helps to focus on your resolution at the beginning of the day before you start making decisions. Each choice you make throughout the day depletes a little bit of your willpower. It’s also a good idea to have a backup plan if you fall off the wagon. Slipups are bound to happen when you’re working towards a goal, but that doesn’t mean they have to completely derail your progress.
Use the Domino Effect to Your Advantage
Quite often people get overwhelmed with how much needs to be done to make their resolution a reality, and they simply don’t know where to start. There are two ONE Thing concepts that can help you overcome this hurtle.
1. The Domino Effect
Big accomplishments start with small actions that lead to larger changes. Success is sequential, and when you line up your priorities correctly one step will naturally lead to the next. It’s a domino effect, but the dominos have to be lined up each day so that progress keeps building.
2. The Focusing Question
How do you find that first, all-important domino? The Focusing Question is all about minimizing effort while maximizing results. You do this by answering the question, “What’s the ONE Thing I can do such that by doing it everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” The answer is the first domino that will make it possible to knock down all the other dominoes that you line up.
Happy New Year! If you have any other tips on achieving your annual goals or resolutions, share them with us in the comment section below or through social media.