Why do we break our New Year’s resolutions? New study reveals the one thing that makes all the difference.
Self-discipline expert and New York Times bestselling author Rory Vaden finds you are three times more likely to keep your resolutions if you stick with it for at least 30 days.
NASHVILLE, Tenn., December 27, 2012 – With the New Year upon us, millions of Americans are making resolutions for 2013. But if history is any indicator, many will likely fall off the wagon. But a new study offers hope, revealing that you are three times more likely to achieve your resolution if you do one thing: stick with it for the first 30 days.
The survey was conducted by global research firm Kelton in partnership with Southwestern Consulting on behalf of self-discipline expert Rory Vaden, author of the New York Times bestseller Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success (Perigee; paperback; January 2013). The study revealed that:
- One in two Americans made a resolution in 2012 – but nearly half (47%) of those people stopped following through on their goals at some point throughout the year.
- Struggling with resolutions is universal. There is no distinguishable demographic trait – gender, age, income, or parental status – that made respondents more or less likely to succeed.
- Nearly one-third (31%) of all resolution-makers admit they stopped following through with these goals within the first 30 days.
- But for those who made it past January 30th, more than three-quarters (76%) of them are still following through with their resolutions. In other words, you are three times more likely to stick with your resolution if you make it past the first 30 days.
“Sticking to New Year’s resolutions is a perennial challenge,” says Vaden. “There are many contributing factors, but at the end of the day, it simply comes down to a lack of self-discipline. Yes, it’s tough to make real changes – but the irony is that if we can just make it past the one-month mark, we are three times more likely to make a permanent change.”
Given the challenges facing goal-setters, Vaden offers six tips for getting over the 30-day hump and sticking to New Year’s resolutions in 2013:
- Pick one resolution – or pick none. We suck at multitasking. Research shows that every time you shift your attention from one task to the next, the amount of time it takes to complete the first task increases by 25 percent. The same is true with achieving goals. The more goals you have, the more difficult it is to achieve any of them – because the time and energy it takes to make behavior changes is spread too thin. If you have more than one resolution, you’re almost destined to fail – and every time you fail, you’re less likely to ever try again. So pick one resolution – or don’t bother at all.
- Put a price tag on your failure. When we break commitments in life, there are consequences. Your resolution is a commitment to yourself, so there should be a cost if you don’t follow through. My friend promised his business partner $2500 if he didn’t lose 50 pounds in six months. Do you think he achieved that goal? You bet. The consequence doesn’t have to be money, but it has to motivate you – something you simply can’t stomach (like handing over 2500 bucks). And make sure you tell someone else – otherwise you have no accountability for following through with the consequence.
- Don’t measure your results – measure your efforts. When people don’t see results right away, they convince themselves that it isn’t worth it, and that it simply won’t work out. However, the research shows that if they can just get through the first 30 days, then long-term sustainable change is nearly inevitable. To get over the 30-day hump, you must be relentless about making progress, while letting go of the demand for perfection. Focus on stellar efforts – not results.
- Set a weekly alarm on your calendar. Schedule a weekly check-in with yourself to evaluate your progress. And remember – you are evaluating the progress of your efforts, NOT your results. If your resolution is to lose 20 pounds, you will not step on the scale every week – you will measure how well you stuck to your food guidelines or exercise goals during the past week. Remember – focus on efforts, not results.
- Start from scratch every week. Whether you kept your efforts on track that week, or completely derailed from your plan, you have to let it go and at your check-in and start fresh each week. Renew your intention to stick your plan. Remember, you are only 30 days away from making a change that you will keep forever!
- Find a friend. Make sure you have an accountability partner, because while you are likely to lose your motivation at some point, it is much less likely that both you and your partner will feel unmotivated at the same time. Self-discipline more fun when you have someone to go to the gym with you, or look at your budget with you, etc.
About Rory Vaden
Rory Vaden is co-founder of Southwestern Consulting and author of the New York Times bestseller Take the Stairs: 7 Steps to Achieving True Success (Perigee; paperback; January 2013). Vaden’s insights on achieving goals and overcoming procrastination have been featured by the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Fast Company, Entrepreneur, and USA Today. He has been a guest on Fox & Friends, and writes regularly for The Huffington Post and The Tennessean. www.roryvaden.com
Kelton is a leading global insights firm serving as a partner to more than 100 of the Fortune 500 and thousands of smaller companies and organizations. Utilizing a wide range of customized, innovative research techniques and staff expertise in marketing, branding, PR, media, and business strategy; Kelton helps drive our clients’ businesses forward. www.keltonglobal.com