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Why You Don’t Keep Your Resolutions And What To Do Instead

“Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the face.” — Mike Tyson

The New Year is only 10 short weeks away. The holidays will blow by before you know it. Then, its New Year’s Day. Resolution time.

Wikipedia describes New Year’s resolutions as: “A New Year’s resolution is a tradition, most common in the Western Hemisphere but also found in the Eastern Hemisphere, in which a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behavior, to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.”

Today, upwards of 50% of Americans make explicit new year’s resolutions. However, statistics show that New Year’s Resolutions have a miserable failure rate. Ninety-two percent of resolutions fail by the second week in February.

Why? Why do resolutions so consistently fail?

Simple. Right around January 5th, you get punched in the face.

New Year’s seems like a good time to make resolutions. The calendar has changed. The holidays are finally over. Spring and summer seem just around the corner. What better time to make a resolution?

In reality, New Year’s is a terrible time to make resolutions. Why?

First, January is the most depressing month of the year. Spring is months away. It’s cold, gray, and rainy outside. It’s hard to develop a new practice or deny yourself when you are subtly depressed.

Second, you are probably worn out. The holidays take a subtle toll emotionally, mentally, and physically. That’s a bad time to keep a new commitment.

Third: Resolutions are something HARD. If they were easy, you would have done them already.

Fourth: Everybody else is also feeling the expectations of the new year and that puts even more stress on you. On January 2nd, your boss calls a big meeting to reorganize the department and go over the aggressive goals for the year. More work, More expectations, More overtime.

About January 5th, you’re depressed, tired, stressed, and pressured. So, you skip the workout, eat that cake, and veg out in front of the TV. You need this, right? Resolutions out the window again.

Is there any way to make New Year’s resolutions stick? Thankfully, there is.

Stop trying to keep a list of resolutions and just do one thing that will benefit every area of your life. What’s that?

It’s a Keystone habit. What’s a Keystone habit? A Keystone habit is a foundational habit that enables other good habits. For example, daily exercise can be considered a “keystone habit” because it often leads to healthier eating and better organization.

This New Year, try just establishing one new keystone habit.

Let me make a suggestion: Establish a specific, consistent time to get up every morning. If you want to determine your personal “get up” time, here’s a post on how to do it. Having a consistent “get up” time each day is almost the definition of a keystone habit. By having a consistent “get up” time, you can also have a consistent exercise routine, a consistent prayer/meditation time, a consistent devotional time, and a plan to have a healthy breakfast. You can get ready for work or for your day without stress and better productivity.

One simple keystone habit can have a ripple effect, benefiting many other areas of your life. So, instead of the list of resolutions, just make one. Establish a new keystone habit. You’ll be surprised at how much easier one keystone habit can make it to achieve other goals in your life.

If you haven’t yet established a specific daily “get up” time, its one I highly recommend. Contact me if you need some help.