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Failure Rate of New Year’s Resolutions

on December 29, 2015

If we’re all capable of setting goals and completing tasks, why do we commonly fail at our New Year’s resolutions?

From Wikipedia: “A 2007 study by Richard Wiseman from the University of Bristol involving 3,000 people showed that 88% of those who set New Year resolutions fail, despite the fact that 52% of the study’s participants were confident of success at the beginning.”

If all your New Year’s resolutions fail, why do you think this one will succeed?

We only talk about New Year’s resolutions for the first two weeks of January. Have you ever had a discussion about a New Year’s resolution in February or any month afterwards? What goal can be achieved if you don’t have regular checkups?

Even though they’re doomed to fail, we still make New Year’s resolutions. We feel compelled to make these life changing pronouncements (often about weight loss). After a month (December) of relaxation and gluttony we’re either charged or embarrassed, and are ready to start anew.

Beware. At the onset of any New Year’s resolution, there are plenty of signs it will collapse. Most of them have to do with overly ambitious eagerness and an unrealistic vision of success.

Most of us have experienced this in our effort to get back in shape. Similarly, I’ve seen it happen with companies looking to build industry thought leadership through their media efforts. The reasons for failure are highly analogous.

Signs your New Year’s resolution will fail: Getting fit vs. building thought leadership edition

Try to do too much: Every day I’m going to work out for three hours and write three blog posts and produce a video and a podcast.

Reality check: You might be able to pull that off for a week or two, but after that it’s unsustainable.

Fear of getting too successful: I don’t want to be one of those weird muscle bound people and I don’t know if I can handle the torrent of comments on our blog. 

Reality check: Neither one will happen on the onset or ‘all of a sudden.’ You’ll have plenty of warning.

Unrealistic expectations: I expect to lose 15 lbs. and have 20,000 viewers to our blog by the end of January.

Reality check: No you won’t and therefore you’ll be disappointed and consider yourself a failure.

Make excuses for why it doesn’t get done: I couldn’t work out or write a blog post today because I simply didn’t have the time.

Reality check: Excuses validate failure but are never the reason for success.

Intimidated by others’ success: Everyone at this gym is more in shape than I am and so many of my colleagues have more followers than me.

Reality check: There will always be someone more successful than you. Always. You may look at them for guidance, not comparison.

Don’t hire a trainer: I’ve done this before. I don’t need any help.

Reality check: You can work out or write blog with no help, but with no direction to avoid mistakes success will simply take longer.

No plan: I’ll just go to the gym and write a blog post every day.

Reality check: Yes, you can do that, and you could be successful, but with a little bit of foresight, you could achieve greater results.

RESULT: You will give up too early

We’ve all wanted to get into shape, but we’ve fallen into these aforementioned behaviors. The same is very true for companies’ blogging, podcasting, and video production efforts. The only way to stay the course and keep to any kind of goal or resolution is planning, realistic effort, and achievable goals. Equally important is scheduling in checkpoints throughout the year to evaluate your progress, adjust your path, and keep you accountable. If you can stay within those guidelines, plus avoid coming up with excuses, I guarantee you’ll be successful. Check back with me in February and let me know how you’re doing.

Creative Commons photo attributions to Cherry Point, Lower Columbia College, and Brandon Binkwilder Santa.

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