New year's resolutions harder to stick to than we think.

By Cassie White.

So what’s your new year’s resolution? Is it to lose that pesky five kilos? Or maybe you’re keen to get fit. Or is 2016 the year you learn a language, give up smoking, save money, or spend more time with your family?

Whatever your goal, if you’re reading this, chances are you’ve resolved to achieve something amazing this year.

Good for you. Change is a good thing and a freshly minted new year is a perfect time to make a start.

Unfortunately, change is also hard work. Really, really hard work. This is why even though many of us wake on January 1 truly believing this is the year we will make the big change we’ve dreamed of, very few of us actually achieve our resolutions.

Research suggests only about 8 per cent of those who set new year’s goals achieve them.

Despite our best intentions and initial burst of enthusiasm, too often, old habits die hard. Motivation wanes after a week or two and before long we’ve slipped back into our old ways.

You know how it goes, you sign up at the gym in January, but come March you just don’t have the time because work/family/new episodes of House of Cards get in the way.

So like the gym gear gathering dust bunnies under your bed, your resolutions are forgotten until next year.

But why is it so difficult to nail these goals?

When it comes to big, bold and brave transformations, we’re often fighting against a lifetime of ingrained behaviours that conspire against us.

We tend to underestimate how difficult the process of change can be. So we’re not ready to do the hard work that’s needed and; therefore, aren’t as ready to change as we thought.

Even when we’re willing to put in the hard yards, we don’t understand that failure is going to be inevitable.

You imagine the process, thinking it’s going to be a cruisy journey down a double-lane highway, instead it’s more like a wild bumpy ride along a dirt road (where you often find yourself going in reverse).


We rarely put in place an action plan to keep us on track when our motivation inevitably wanes and life gets in the way. The little things that can help — like booking regular sessions with a personal trainer at your gym or making “appointments” to work out with friends.

We often don’t think about the goals we are setting and whether they are the right type of goals.

Top 10 resolutions of 2015:

  1. Stay fit and healthy
  2. Lose weight
  3. Enjoy life to the fullest
  4. Spend less, save more
  5. Spend more time with family and friends
  6. Get organised
  7. Will not make any resolutions
  8. Learn something new/new hobby
  9. Travel more
  10. Read more

Source: Nielsen.

Research says we’re more likely to reach a goal if it’s specific and attainable. So while getting fit or losing weight might seem like admirable goals, you’re less likely to achieve a broad general goal like this.

Then there are things going on outside your head, everything from your body to your social circle, that can affect your ability to make change.

You might be trying to get fit, but your friends and family prefer the inside of a pub to a gym. This makes it hard to break bad habits and keep working on your goals.

Making sustainable, lifelong changes, means digging deep and asking yourself tough questions. It requires getting uncomfortable — and that can be tough.

But it’s not impossible. People do change. They quit smoking. They lose weight. They learn that language. They start running, and then one day go on to finish a marathon.

The really great news is there’s a growing body of research that tells us what works when it comes to making big changes. There are strategies and tools that can help you to set achievable goals, and meet them.

In the coming weeks we’ll be speaking to some of Australia’s leading experts in the psychology of change and sharing their knowledge, tips and ideas on how you can nail your new year’s resolutions in 2016.

This post originally appeared on ABC News

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