The E.I. Behind New Year ResolutionsWhy Do Some Work and Others Don't?

The 1st of January is known as the traditional time to set new resolutions or goals with aspirations for the year to be amazing or even the best yet! World-wide research shows that, approximately 80% of people set a new year resolution with Australia following this trend at 79%. On average, less than 10% of people achieve these resolutions or goals. Why?

Why do some people succeed and others not?

Why do we even set them in the first place? Surely, we learnt our lesson from last year, and the year before that….

The desire to attach a goal or resolution to the starting of the new year is an interesting one. We know that these goals can be created any month, any day or even any minute, so why wait till the first day of a new year?

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Why the 1st January?

New year resolutions are said to have begun with the Babylonians over 4000 years ago with promises to the gods for the past year mishaps and asking to bestow favour for the future year. While date of the start of the year changing through history the resolutions moving from resolutions to gods or others to resolutions to ourselves, the underlying purpose is still there.

The new year brings with it a sense of a fresh start or a clean slate. It feels like we can package up all of the challenges, poor choices/decisions and mishaps from the last 12 months, put them in a box and put them behind us. From an EI point of view, this is clearing our emotional stack.

If you can picture every time we feel a specific emotion it adds a layer to that emotions stack. So let’s use anger as an example. Picture that stack having a fuse up through the middle of it. Each time we get angry, we add a layer and the fuse grows shorter, meaning it takes less to trigger anger in us. When we ‘clear the stack’, there are no layers built up and our fuse becomes longer again. It then takes a lot more to trigger anger in us.

'We can talk about wanting to do something as much as we like but until we put a specific time or moment that it will occur, it is unlikely that we will do it'

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Picking a date or moment in time to start a goal, regardless of whether it is 1st January, provides commitment for our subconscious mind. We can talk about wanting to do something as much as we like but until we put a specific time or moment that it will occur, it is unlikely that we will do it. It takes a signal of specific commitment for the subconscious mind to latch onto and then support us to make this happen.

On the flip side, setting new year resolutions can lack ownership. By bundling everything from the last 12 months into one basket and blaming any negatives on the year, it lacks us owning the role we have played in it either happening, our initial reaction/response and subsequent choices made.

We really don’t get enough years in our lives as it is so writing off a whole year for some pockets of time is a waste and limits our ability to make the most of who we are, our purpose and our learnings. Own it.

Why do the majority of resolutions not succeed? 

There are 4 key reasons why many resolutions do not make it through the year and reach the measure of success:

  • The desire to go from nothing to everything- This is so common, as humans once we have made a decision, we want it all to happen tomorrow. Setting a new year resolution to start exercising every day, eat healthy and meal prep all in one hit is a big ask! That is a lot of actions and habits for one person to create. It is also a lot of time that was previously spent doing something else and a whole lot of change. It can quickly become overwhelming and too hard.
  • Lack of purpose or emotional driver- Everything that we do is to satisfy an emotional need. In order to really commit, we must knowing the answer to the following questions ‘what’s in it for me?’, ‘why is it so important for me to do this?’, ‘what will happen if I don’t do it?’, ‘what do I stand to gain and what do I stand to lose?’. If the answer or consequence of these answers is not a high enough priority, the shiny new goal loses it’s sparkle pretty quickly.
  • Vague, not measurable or actionable-  If our resolution is too vague, can’t be measured to clearly know when success is achieved or we can’t physically do anything to action it, it is still a dream or idea. These wont’ be achieved until they become goals or actions. 
  • We stop before it becomes a habit- Research says it takes 21 days to create a new habit. That is 21 days are doing it 100% committed. To really embed the habit and let it become a new part of your life, I would recommend 3 months. The size of the goal and the change plays a big part in creating the habit. When the sparkle tends to dim, revert back to your purpose and emotional driver and how high a priority the goal really is.

It is common for those people that don’t set goals regularly or at any other times in the year to not succeed in their new year resolution. This is simply due to goal setting being a new thing and the goals not being set right in the first place.

So to really make the most out of your New Year resolutions:

  •   Start with one small and simple goal.
  •   Know your emotional driver and purpose.
  •   Be very clear and specific on what the goal is and what success looks like.
  •   Don’t just create the habit, embed it.

If you are really serious about personal growth and making the most of what you are truly capable of, don’t wait till the new year to set goals. Set goals regularly throughout the year, review them, tweak them and start challenging yourself every day of every year.

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