Is it pointless making New Year’s Resolutions?

What is it about a New Year that make so many of us want to start afresh, throwing out old bad habits and stocking up on new, positive ones?

Any internet search will bring up millions of articles about New Year’s resolutions, but most of them will focus on the reasons why so many fail at the first hurdle. In fact the statistics vary from an 8% success rate to an 80% failure rate - I’m not sure what happened to the other 12%!

Most Goal Gurus will tell you that is it pointless making decisions on what we should do, we need to be making decisions on what we want to do. Yes, maybe I should lose weight and get fit, but do I really want to start a diet and sign up for the gym on January 1st? Perhaps, if I feel strongly that I would like to live a few more healthy years and see my daughters grow up and have families of their own, then I am likely to be more motivated to make the necessary lifestyle changes over the coming months.

The consensus view seems to be, that the best time to make decisions on future goals is not at 11.30pm on 31st December after consuming 2 or 3 bottles of Prosecco. After all, how likely are we to take important business decisions when we have had ‘a few too many’? Okay, I can hear a number of you now saying - “Funny you should say that…” 

In fact, one of the biggest decisions I have made in recent years was after drinking ‘Fizz’ on an empty stomach, when I proclaimed to the multitude hanging on my every word (well the other 3 women sharing the bottle with me) that with a big birthday coming up I needed to take on a challenge. My drinking buddies also seemed to agree and when we found that each of us had a ‘significant birthday’ in 2 years time, albeit all different ones, they too joined in with my excited suggestion that we should all climb Kilimanjaro together. This, however, is where the difference between us started. They, no doubt, went home and put the conversation down to drunken optimism, forgotten by the morning, whilst I went home, created a Facebook event and told the world that this was what I was going to do in my 60th year!

Here though are a few tips for goal-setting success, which no doubt assisted me in achieving my challenge:-

  1. Tell the world - according to the research, this is especially effective for women. (Apparently men are more likely to succeed when asked to take part in goal setting, something to do with setting achievable goals like losing a pound a week rather than climb the the highest mountain in Africa)  Not actually the world of course, although my Facebook event did get quite a lot of organic reach, but friends and family can offer support and hold you accountable. An accountability buddy is proven to significantly help in keeping you on the straight and narrow. For me though, I am just stubborn, if I’ve said I am going to do something, so I must.

  2. Keep a record of your plan, as well as your progress - there’s that Facebook event again, but lovely notebooks are just as good, if not better. Remember to set small sub-goals, interim steps that you can reach, achieve and reward yourself for. Most importantly, remember to celebrate your successes along the way - maybe not with cake if you are trying to trim the pounds.

  3. Find a sober buddy - specifically in my case, seek out someone to join you who is sane and sober when they decide to sign up.

My challenge? Well, nearly 2 years after suggesting climbing Kilimanjaro, my friend Ali and I did just that in October 2017 and here’s the photo to prove it.

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So yes, it is worth setting goals, but only you will know the steps to take to give you the best chance of success.

Gill Donnell 2018

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