Why making New Year's resolutions may not help you

A person prepares to write New Year's resolutions on a piece of paper. [Getty Images]

A New Year brings in hope and offers another chance to right the things one never got right in the previous year. So, many people tend to welcome a new year with excitement and anticipation.

The tradition of setting New Year’s resolutions is as old as man himself. Unfortunately, few people follow through with these resolutions. One Gallup study showed a 91 per cent failure rate in New year resolutions. This means only about 9 per cent follow through those resolutions.

This is not much different from other studies. A study by the University of Scranton showed only 8 per cent of the population accomplish their goals. It is easy to see why New Year’s resolutions fail.

One, people tend to rush to make New Year resolutions or goals probably to avoid the guilt of feeling like you have nothing to aim at. These resolutions are not well thought through and hence when the rubber meets the road, they are abandoned.

Two, there is no structure to follow through, just nice-sounding words that will not give you the motivation you need. Three, there is no accountability hence chances of falling back are high.

But there also salient issues that could contribute:

First, it is important to note that our education system hardly prepares students in goal setting. It is probably not viewed as important as other academic subjects. Yet, in my view, this skill would set the young people in our schools on a path to success. Learning how to decide what truly matters to a person and then coming up with a clear plan to achieve it is a gainful exercise.

Second, people are creatures of habit and tend to follow the path of least resistance. They love comfort. This prevents a majority of people from taking the time required to plan for what they really want. This, sadly, is reflected even in many projects we undertake which are hurriedly put together. The masses have not been socialised to think through projects let alone their lives.

Third, getting a detailed plan for your life will require time. Most people have allowed themselves to be distracted by all the distractions around them. This leaves little or no time for serious thinking, for such long-term planning.

What can we do? It is often said not planning is planning to fail. It would be prudent for the education system to include this all-important skill to the school curriculum to inculcate this skill as early as possible.

For the larger population who are out of the education system, self-learning is now available at the click of a button. Endeavor to learn this important skill. Failure to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions continuously can be associated with low self-esteem, lack of confidence, and feelings of frustration not to mention missed opportunities.

A person who does not set goals is living with no purpose. That is a dangerous position to be in. The art of setting goals or resolutions is a learnable skill.

The writer is a personal growth and leadership coach. [email protected]