Updated 3 months, 2 weeks ago

5 mistakes that make it impossible to keep your New Year’s resolution

We've all made a New Year's resolution we knew we couldn't keep. Sometimes, it almost seems like resolutions are just meant to be broken. But trust me; resolutions are good, productive ways to set goals and intentions for the New Year. Deciding to make positive changes, like ditching a bad habit and adopting a healthier one, is always a good idea; one you should see through to the end. To do that, you need to be aware of these 5 common mistakes people make when they pick a New Year's resolution.

1. You have no routine: The entire “New Year Resolution” phenomenon essentially boils down to habit-making, and habits are built over time. The opposite is true, too: bad habits are dismantled over time. Your job is to contribute a little bit each and every day until those habits are built. The proper way to do this is to create a routine. And as counter-intuitive as it may sound, this is especially important if your resolution goals are creative. Sure, routines can be a pain, but here’s the good news: habits can form or break in just 21 days. All you have to do is hold out for three weeks and you’ll find it much easier to stay on track towards your goals.

2. Your resolution is too big: You think: "I'm going to spend less, work out more, and get promoted." All great aspirations, but creating a resolution that's too big sets you up for failure. The first key to success is zeroing in on one goal, not three. Then do a quick reality check. Look at the level of commitment it will require to achieve, and consider if you'll be able to match it: Are you really going to be able to swear off chocolate completely? Unlikely. Limiting your Hershey's Kisses eating to a few times a week would be much more achievable.

3. You’re afraid to fail: The number one reason why creatives quit the pursuit of their dreams? Fear of failure. If you feel like you aren’t good enough or that your work sucks or that you could never be a good [insert goal here], then you know what I’m talking about. The fear of failure also extends beyond the creative. For example, many people stop going to the gym because they think they’ll never be able to achieve the weight, strength, or body definition that they truly want, and so they quit. But fear is good. The ability to take calculated risks is one thing that separates those who grow from those who stall.

4. You rely on other people to push you: Asking people for support is smart, but to make your resolution stick, now is the time to learn how to be your own cheerleader. In fact, relying too heavily on a pal or family member to get you to do something can actually decrease your motivation to work toward your goals, a study in Psychological Science found. To remind yourself why this goal is important to you, write little notes and post them where you'll see them: your desk, the mirror, and that snooze button.

5. You don't write down your goals: People who write down their goals feel a greater sense of accountability and have a much higher chance of accomplishing them. Post your goals on your fridge, write them in dry-erase marker on the bathroom mirror, or write them down in a journal. Journaling can also help you reflect on your progress and, honest reflection can help you to see how you may be sabotaging yourself or to recognize patterns of behavior.

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