It is estimated that over 80% of us make New Year’s resolutions of some kind. Yet how many of these last until the end of January, or even until the Christmas decorations are put away?

Despite our best intentions many of our New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail from the outset. Here are the top five reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t work – and what you can do about them.

1. Low expectations – it’s almost an unwritten law that resolutions don’t work. Our friends, the media and society at large expect you to give up in the first week. It has become something of a standing joke. This low expectation gives you permission to fail. Therefore you don’t fully commit and consequently fail to succeed.

2. Expressed in the negative – Our New Year’s resolutions are often expressed in negative terms for example, “I’m going to give up smoking” or “I must lose weight”. Our brains cannot think in negative terms without first picturing the opposite. Try NOT thinking about a piece of chocolate cake and you’ll see what I mean. Therefore by thinking about not eating or doing something, we first have to think about doing it and eventually the temptation becomes too great.

3. Unrealistic targets – For example “I’m going to the gym every day”. A problem here is that it is too great a shift from coach potato to gym junkie. You may succeed for the first few days, then life gets in the way, or your muscles are so sore that you need a day off. The danger is once you break your promise to yourself and those around you; it becomes easier to break it again and again until you have forgotten where the gym is.

4. Insufficient why’s – Sometimes we set our resolutions to please others, or because we feel we ‘should’ do or stop doing something. In order to push through the inevitable challenges of adapting our behaviour we need big enough reasons why. Sometimes it takes a health scare to dramatically alter our eating or lifestyle habits. Other times it takes the financial challenge of losing a job to galvanise us into taking action to find a better job or start a business.

5. Your Self Image – To make an effective change on the outside we first need to change on the inside. Our current situation represents the cumulative effects of years of conditioning through our thoughts, beliefs and actions. Our self image acts like a thermostat to keep our results in line with our expectations. A major shift in our results first requires a major shift in our thoughts and beliefs. This involves the creation of a new self image, one who is the desired shape, level of fitness, income, or lifestyle. Processes such as positive affirmations and visualisation have been successfully used in the creation of a new self image.

Now you know why your New Year’s resolutions have failed in the past you are better equipped to set some new goals. Examine what you want to achieve in each area of your life and then check them against the five steps above:

Do you have low expectations? Only share your goals with trusted friends who will support you.

Express your goals in positive terms. Rather than trying to lose weight for example, state your intention to reach a figure that feels appropriate to you.

Are your goals attainable? Start by taking manageable steps, this will enable you to gain confidence and momentum. Break down your big goals for the year into smaller monthly or weekly objectives.

Are these really your goals? List the reasons why you want these. When you have sufficient power in your whys, you will have the momentum to achieve your goals.

Finally and perhaps most importantly, start visualising and vividly imagining yourself as already achieving the outcomes you desire. This will begin to imprint a new self image in your subconscious and in term will affect your actions and ultimately your results.

Author's Bio: 

DJ Britton is an internationally renowned writer, speaker and publisher of the popular eZine “A Design For Life”. Delivered to over 20 countries this is an excellent resource for articles and information to help you live your best life.
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