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Top Reasons Why Resolutions Don't Work [+ Free SMART Goal Workbook]

Avoid the common mistakes most people make.

As the New Year begins, many of us set ambitious resolutions with the best of intentions, only to find ourselves struggling to keep them in the weeks and months that follow.

According to a study from the UK, 64% of people abandon their New Year's resolutions within a month. But why do so many resolutions end in failure?

#1. Lacking Specificity. One of the most significant reasons is that they’re not specific enough. Vague resolutions such as "be more mindful", "focus on personal growth", or "take care of my mental and physical health" lack specificity, and therefore, are easier to drop out or walk away from. The survey by HCF revealed Australia's most popular resolutions for 2023:

  • increasing physical activity/exercise (52%),

  • improving nutrition/losing weight (47%),

  • reducing stress (42%),

  • achieving financial goals (38%), and

  • getting more sleep (37%).

These resolutions often address common, long-term goals that many people strive for. Moreover, goals related to overall health and well-being are not easily achieved in a short amount of time and may be difficult to maintain on a long-term basis. This leads to people making the same resolution year after year.

#2. Having too many goals can leave you overwhelmed. Limiting your goals to a manageable number of three or four specific and achievable objectives can help prevent stress, maintain focus, and avoid feelings of underperformance.

#3. Lack of planning is another big one. We write our goals down inside a newly purchased diary and then close it. However, without a clear plan of action and realistic steps, it can be challenging to stay on track and achieve them.

When we set up specific goals that include a time, place, or people it provides mental cues to help us stay on track while vague resolutions require more mental effort and can easily be pushed aside or forgotten.

To make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:

  • Specific (What will be accomplished? Why is it important?)

  • Measurable (How will I know it has been accomplished?)

  • Achievable (Is the goal doable? What do I need?)

  • Relevant (How does the goal align with broader goals?).

  • Time-bound (What is the time frame for accomplishing the goal?).

Using the SMART goal method is what you need for setting yourself up for success.

At Dale Carnegie, we designed a free Goal Setting and Accountability Workbook to help you learn the strategies and techniques to turn your aspirations into reality. It's a fillable PDF step-by-step guide to setting effective, achievable goals. Whether it’s a personal goal, hitting business objectives, or setting targets for your team; don’t make a resolution. Make a commitment.

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