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As the New Year approaches, many adults will enter the resolution cycle in a quest to improve themselves. However, 32% of people who make resolutions fail within the first two weeks, with 80% failing after three months. Instead of being hard on yourself for not succeeding at your resolutions, focus on how change really happens.

Why Do New Year’s Resolutions Fail?

Before you can determine how to succeed, it’s important to understand why so many resolutions fail. Many adults only set goals one time a year—on New Year’s Eve—so they aren’t used to the process of setting and achieving goals. In many cases, you aren’t unable to reach goals; you are just out of practice. Many other people set unrealistic or unachievable goals. If you are dealing with $50,000 of student loan debt, making a resolution to pay that off in a single year is probably not too realistic.

The Stages of Change

There are six established stages of change that can help to guide you when changing your habits.

  1. Precontemplation: You are not thinking about changing your behavior yet, for any number of reasons.
  2. Contemplation: You are thinking about changing your habits and behaviors for the better, but you aren’t making any steps to do so yet.
  3. Determination: Once you reach this stage, you’re finally heating up to the idea of real change! Determination is when the balance tips from indecision to motivation to change.
  4. Action: During this state, you take your plans and goals and put them into action.
  5. Maintenance, Relapse and Recycling: This stage is where relapses can occur. The ultimate goal is reaching a stage of maintenance for so long that the final stage occurs.
  6. Termination: At this point, you are no longer tempted by your bad habits or lifestyle from before, and you can confidently navigate your life as a changed person!

Set Better Resolutions

First, you should stop seeing your goals as resolutions. Change does not need to happen on New Year’s Day. Change can happen any time you finally realize that enough is enough and seek to make a change. When setting your goals, you should:

  • Start with a single goal. Instead of wanting to work out every day, lose 15 lbs. and take the yoga class you’ve been wanting to, pick one of the three to start with. Many times, a single positive change will lead to other positive and lasting changes.
  • Pay attention to the reason why you are setting the goal. Your intention makes a massive difference in whether or not you will make a real change. Do you want to lose weight to fit into a smaller size of jeans? Or, do you want to lose weight to be healthier for your family and have better visits to the doctor? Thinking about the reasons that lie behind superficial goals will help you to remember why making a change is worthwhile.
  • Choose changes that have measurable results if you are discouraged by vague goals. For example, if you have trouble sticking to your goal of learning a new language, set a goal to finish a level 1 or introductory course for your preferred language by the end of the year.

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help 

There is nothing wrong with asking for help making lasting changes in your life. If you want professional guidance on setting and achieving your goals, contact CBT Baltimore to get on the right track at 443-470-9815.