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Welcome to 2011 and the new decade. Hurrah…a new start, spring will be here soon, it’s time to strip away the old and open ourselves to new possibilities – and then return to the same old same old life as a workshifter. January, of course, is a time for making our New Year’s Resolutions and then promptly begin breaking them.

The “78% will fail” statistic comes from research by Richard Wiseman, who does some interesting research debunking many of the claims made in the personal development field. According to Wiseman, many of the 78% in his research group failed because they had focused on what would happen if they didn’t achieve their resolution and tried to do get there by willpower alone. Personally, I avoid being in the 78% category by not setting any resolutions!

Here’s 3 reasons why people fail with New Year’s Resolutions, and what works better:

Resolution Challenge #1: Cold Weather

January, for those in the Northern Hemisphere in particular, is a month of cold, grey, short days and one that follows a month of excess, merriment and celebrations. It’s the prime “Cold Turkey” month – an image which conjures supreme acts of will in withdrawing from addictive substances, most of which will result in failure. Not really a proper environment to promote the best chances of success!

What works better: If you’ve already tried a resolution and failed already, shift your focus instead onto developing a Theme for the year ahead. Choose one word or a short phrase (up to 3 words) that represents the overall direction you want to take your life this year. My theme this year is “Simplify”. I may not fully achieve it, but by having this one goal at the front of my consciousness, I’ll strive to simplify daily and I’ll be more aware (and, as a result, find it easier to make adjustments), when I over-complicate my life, which I tend to do on a frequent basis!

In short: Ditch the resolution and pick up a theme for 2011.

Resolution Challenge #2: Being Overambitious

People have a tendency to make large, difficult to achieve resolutions that don’t afford the demands of everyday life. Remember that you don’t live in a vacuum. For example, it’s not easy to lose 2KGs weight when, like most people, you’re probably leading a full and busy life. If you are a celebrity with a personal chef, then you’re all sorted!

What works better: Look at your life and what’s realistic and plan according to this. Break your resolution or goal into baby steps. One step at a time. And just because you stumble in your baby steps (as you will), it doesn’t actually mean that you’re doomed to failure! Just get up and try again!

In short: Be realistic, get support, take baby steps and keep on trying!

Resolution Challenge #3: Failing to Plan

Rarely do people plan how they will achieve our resolutions or goals. Nor do they consider “What might prevent me from succeeding in this resolution?” or “What might go wrong and what will I do if that happens?” and “What will I put in place to support me?”

What works better: Keep a diary of your goal progress. Ask yourself why you want to achieve this, what it will bring you and brainstorm as many ideas as you can of ways to get there. Don’t make goals or resolutions with out thought! Ensure you’ve got good support and accountability structures in place (Coaches are good for this. There’s one writing to you right now!).

In short: Treat your resolution or goal as a project, not just a sentence. Remember that boring old adage: “Failing to plan is planning to fail”!

Photo Credit: Jeff Hester

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