8% of the people who make New Year’s resolutions have success.
We’re 13 days into the New Year, and as one would guess, most of us have probably already thrown our resolutions in the trash. It happens every year.
January 1st brings a new sense of hope, and with it comes the confidence we can change anything we want. And then, the world continues as it did in the previous year, and we become hopeless. With the shrug of the shoulders, we mutter, “Habits are habits. It didn’t kill me last year so why stop.”
Here’s a quick tip rooted in behavioral psychology that might just help you keep your New Year’s resolution.
Tip: Give yourself permission to fail
For some odd reason we’ve been taught since we’re little that failure is bad. We were told it should be avoided at all cost, and so we assumed only stupid people fail. Thus, we spend our entire adult lives trying to avoid it like the plague. And then when we do fail, we have this huge stress response, and failure becomes not just a psychological response, but also a physiological response.
Fear of failure is one of the primary reasons we quit our New Year’s resolutions. We expect immediate 100% success in changing bad habits we’ve had for YEARS. As soon as we fail, we give up. No one is comfortable failing over and over and over again. So the easiest solution is to quit. Who wants to continually feel bad about some stupid New Year’s resolution?
Starting right now, you need to give yourself permission to fail. Don’t stress. Don’t get upset. Most importantly, don’t quit.
I’m a diet soda addict. On a good day, I’d drink 4-6 cans. On a bad day (which I had a lot more bad days than good days), I’d drink 10-12 cans. I’ve done that for the past 12 years or so. So on January 1st, I told myself I was going to “eventually” quit. My goal was to reduce my intake to 2 cans of diet soda per day by June 1st.
I knew I would fail, and actually fail quite often. So to alleviate the stress associated with failure, I had a plan. Whenever I had the urge for a diet soda, I first had to drink an entire bottle of water and have 25mg caffeine (caffeine withdrawals were my biggest concern). If 15 minutes after that, I still had the urge, I could drink a diet soda, regret free.
So far, it’s been a success. I’m actually ahead of schedule. I’m averaging about 3 cans of diet soda per day. And the best part of it, when I do actually drink a can, I can enjoy it because I know I tried.