There’s nothing quite like a new year. That magical time when the hope of change hangs in the air, and the smell of last year’s failure lingers like a stale fart.
Everyone makes motivation and achieving stuff way too complicated. If it’s not an insane 18 step formula, it’s over the top affirmations and false positivity.
Let’s find some balance…
True or False: 92% of New Year’s Resolutions Are Unsuccessful
For this statistic, I’m drawing on research by the illustrious Dr. John Norcross. He does in fact say that 92% of people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions after 6 months, if they remain at stage 2 (I’ll explain the stages in a minute). If they move to stage 3, only 52% fail. That’s a six fold increase in success rate!
The 5 New Year’s Resolution Stages You WILL Go Through
This part is key. If you follow these steps, you will be more than 10x as likely to succeed. Forget all the life coaches, motivational products, and spurious online claims. This is proven to help you succeed, and is the only research I know of that can legitimately make such a bold claim.
IMPORTANT: You need to take this advice based on where you are in the 5 stages. If you commit the error Norcross calls “step mis-matching” you’re basically sabotaging your own progress.
Stage One: Psych
This is the stage when you think about your New Year’s resolution. You usually start by considering whether or not you want to do a New Year’s resolution this year, and if so, what you want to change. I’m not gonna spend much time on this because it’s pretty self-explanatory.
Stage Two: Prep
The vast majority of New Year’s resolutioners are at stage two, and most are doomed to stay here. That’s not you though, because you’re reading this article. And you’re not just going to read it and go back to Facebook or Twitter – you’re going to apply the information… right?
Why do most people get stuck in stage two? They don’t plan!
If you have a goal and you don’t know what the next actionable step is, you procrastinate. A great example is getting in shape. How do you start getting in shape without a plan? You don’t, because you don’t know what the hell you’re supposed to do.
Is it going to the gym? Which gym will you go to? Which plan will you sign up for? Which exercises will you do?
One of the leading causes of procrastination isn’t laziness, it’s a lack of information about the relevant actionable steps between you and your goal. Write out a list of milestones on the way to achieving your goal, then put those on a timeline and keep it in a place you’ll see it often. Phone or laptop background, fridge, bathroom mirror, etc.
Stage Three: Perspire
You’ve got your plan outlined. You know the steps you have to take, and you’ve completed your prep work. If it’s getting in shape – you know the gym you’re going to, you’ve scheduled work-outs, booked your personal trainer, and bought clothes, a gym bag, and a pair of those shoes with five individual toes.
Stage Four/Five: Persevere/Persist
I cover this briefly at the end of the video above. The pitfall people run into once they hit stage four is setbacks – missing a day at the gym, having that one cigarette, eating that one cheeseburger. You know these people, they set the same resolution every year and fall off the wagon after two weeks. Why?
It’s the belief in an all or nothing approach to achieving a goal, and it’s absolutely toxic. If you have an expectation of perfection, you WILL be disappointed. Ironically, perfectionists fail more than anyone else because their belief system doesn’t leave room for mistakes.
You WILL make mistakes. You WILL have days where you don’t achieve your goals. That’s OK. What matters is that you have a coherent belief system that provides you with a way forward when this inevitably does happen.
So… what do you do when you make a mistake and cheat on your New Year’s resolution?
You write it off as a mistake and keep going. The success of your New Year’s resolution depends on the sum of all the actions you take throughout the year, so as long as your successes outweigh your setbacks, you’re doing great.
What Are Your New Year’s Resolutions? How Are They Going?
I’d love to hear about it. Leave me a comment below, and while you’re at it, sign up for free updates.