Why do resolutions fail? A few days into 2017 and already many New Year’s Resolutions will be faltering, despite best intentions. This isn’t because people are weak but because the psyche is complicated. Knowing how to navigate the obstacles to achieve what you want for yourself is important if you are serious about making change happen. Most resolutions are about breaking bad habits. This is trickier than learning a new skill because first of all you are unlearning another skill – one which has become a default pattern and which you can do without thinking. Change, therefore requires thought and attention.
This article shares with you five top reasons that change is difficult and what you can do about them.
Why do resolutions fail? Top 5 reasons and solutions:
Why do resolutions fail 1. How you focus
Most people make resolutions based on what they don’t want rather than what they do want. “I don’t want to be fat”, “I don’t want to struggle like last year”, “I don’t want to be stuck in this dead-end job”. The brain doesn’t process this so well and will focus on what you don’t want. To illustrate this, if I ask you not to think about a yellow bus with pink dots, what are you thinking of? And if I insist that you don’t think of the yellow bus with pink dots, are you still thinking of it? Of course, because you have to think about it to not think about it so your mind focuses on it even though you don’t want to. Solution: To make the link easier for your mind, translate that into what you do want.
Why do resolutions fail 2. I’ve blown it syndrome
Change is not an event but a series of steps and, usually, slip-ups from your chosen path. Slip-ups are not a sign of failure but a sign that you need to learn something new to keep you on track. Change has many layers and reprogramming the brain is creating a new habit which is strong in different contexts. Solution: Recognising the difference between a lapse (one slip-up) a relapse (a short series of slip-ups) and collapse (old habits have taken over), it becomes easier to get yourself back on track by learning from the mistake and resuming your new habit until that becomes your default pattern, no matter what else is happening. You haven’t failed unless you give up. So, just keep going.
Why do resolutions fail 3. It’s just too difficult
Anything worthwhile is difficult before it is easy, as the old saying goes. You are trying to make a new default pattern and that takes skills and resources – not least of all persistence and the ability to tolerate discomfort for a while. It may be that what you need is support. Either a friend who will keep you on track (rather than convince you that you deserve that cigarette/beer/prosecco/cake). Or, better still, a professional coach/therapist who understands the psychology of change and will provide you with continued motivation, help develop new skills, provide guidance and support throughout your transition. Remember, you don’t have to do it alone. Solution: Determine the skills you need to keep you on track (ie being able to say ‘no’, persistence, learning from experience, dealing with setbacks etc and consciously create them. Or get support to keep you on track and make it easier on yourself.
Why do resolutions fail 4. Internal saboteur
This is my favourite because it is different for everyone and I have a hypnosis technique which really helps, but you can do it on your own too. We all have benefits to a problem, even if we don’t think so. In my consultation with clients I always ask them to think about the benefits to their problem. Most people say there isn’t one. But that isn’t true because if there isn’t one, it would be easy to let go of it and fulfil your resolution, wouldn’t it? There is always a benefit.
When you understand this, you can meet the need in a more functional way so that you can let go of the ‘bad habit’ (assuming you are swapping a bad habit for a good one) and achieve your resolution. To be honest, this can be tricky to do on your own but a good way is to ask yourself “what is the benefit to this problem” then wait patiently for the answer. Your conscious mind will pipe up quickly with “there isn’t one”. It is your unconscious mind which has all the answers – that’s why you need to sit with the question before allowing the answer to come. If it still doesn’t come, ask yourself “and if there was a benefit, what would it be?”. This usually will allow the answer to appear. It is easier through hypnosis though … Solution: Discover any unconscious blocks and address the need differently.
Why do resolutions fail 5. Tyranny of the Shoulds
Thinking about your resolution in terms of what you should do,will create an unconscious built-in resistance for most. If you think when your mother used to tell you that you should wrap up warm, or you should eat your sprouts, did it make you want to? Or did it make you want to do the opposite? It is much better to say that you choose something rather than you should do it. Then your unconscious mind is onside. Solution: Any resolution needs to be based on what you want for yourself rather than to fulfil what someone else thinks you ought to do.
If you are still finding it difficult to stick to your resolutions, think about getting one of my self-hypnosis CDs to help support you. Also my 21 Ways and 21 Days book is good – it has a journal in it to keep you on track. Anyone who buys one of my self-help products during January will also receive, free:
- A New Year’s Resolution, Make-it-Happen template
- A lifewheel to help you determine which areas of your life are out of balance and need attention
- An inspirations e-mail each day for 30 days to help you achieve the change you seek for yourself
Simply click on the Products tab and browse through. If you aren’t sure which would serve you best, do feel free to get in touch. The details are on the Get in Touch page. I want you to make 2017 your best year yet!
If you prefer working 1:1, please give me a no obligation call on 0345 130 0854 or get in touch here so we can discuss how this might work for you.
In the meantime, wishing you healthy, happiness and abundance for 2017.