6 Reasons You Won't Keep Your New Year's Resolution (And How To Stick To Yours Permanently)

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why new year's resolutions fail

You can actually make a change for 2018.

Each year right around New Year's, I watch people post about their resolutions. Everyone and his or her mother is going to lose weight. Going to stop smoking. Going to stop doing X,Y or Z.

About two weeks later, I hear "slight chatter" about these resolutions. A week after? I hear zilch.

Those passionate resolutions are now distant and cool lovers of the past. This is why I am rare to root someone on unless they ask directly for me to do so. I know that people will abandon their resolutions each year, but are there reasons why New Year's resolutions fail?

Here's why you just can't keep your resolutions and how to keep you from breaking them.

1. You're not ready to make a change.

Are you really ready to make that resolution to drop weight, quit smoking or quit a bad marriage? Ask yourself honestly. According to Timothy Pychyl, a professor of psychology at Carleton University in Canada, people are looking to reinvent themselves but they're not usually ready to change serious bad habits.

RELATED: 10 Inspirational New Year's Quotes To Ring In The New Year

Are you really ready to change or are you all talk? Change can be extremely painful and a lot of work. The end rewards will be great, but you have to be willing to put in the work. You can't press a button on January 1st of each year and expect miracles.

2. You don't believe you can follow through.

You're spouting off diatribes on how this year will be different. You'll leave that bad man! You'll lose weight! You'll ask your boss for a raise! But inside, do you believe you can really do it? Most likely, if you keep failing at a resolution, you don't believe you have it in you.

3. You're not being realistic.

You're saying you'll run a marathon next month, but you haven't stopped on a treadmill since. Well, you've never run on a treadmill, much less walked on it. You set insanely lofty resolutions that are impossible to do.

4. You're following everyone else.

Yeah, I said that. You're making resolutions because, hey, everyone else is doing it. You say you're going to hit your goals but you aren't committed deep in your heart.

5. You're hanging with the wrong crowd.

You want to lose weight, but you hang out with friends who think that "gym" is a bad word. You want to stop smoking but your spouse is lighting up like a tree. Being in "bad" company doesn't help the matter.

6. You're aren't specific enough.

"I want to lose weight."

"I want to meet someone."

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Okay, that's nice, but narrow it down a little, like, "I want to go on 5 dates this month by signing up on an app or site" or "I want to lose 10 pounds this month and will do so by joining a karate class." Being broad just allows you to fail more quickly!

Now that you know why New Year's resolutions fail and why you're not too likely to follow through, there are a few tips you can use to stick to your guns. According to Susan Weinschenk Ph.D., do the following:

1. Make a new habit.

Weinschenk says that since we as people make "habits" all the time, it's not so hard actually. In order to change your bad habit, adopt a new, healthy one.

She shares these three steps created by B.J. Fogg and Charles Duhigg:

  • Pick a small action. Avoid those broad resolutions, folks. Go to boxing class each morning at 9 AM rather than "Get fit!"
  • Attach your new action to an old habit that's well-established. Dr. Weinschenck says, "For example, if you already go for a brisk walk 3 times a week, then adding on 10 more minutes to the existing walk connects the new habit to an existing one. The existing habit 'Go for walk' now becomes the 'cue' for the new habit: 'Walk 10 more minutes.'"
  • Make the action easy to do at first. This will make the habit easier to "stick."

2. Have your resolution and goal match the story you have about yourself.

Or, as Weinschenk calls it, your "self-story."

"You want to make decisions that match your idea of who you are. When you make a decision or act in a way that fits your self-story, the decision or action will feel right. When you make a decision or act in a way that doesn’t fit your self-story, you feel uncomfortable," Weinschenk advises.

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Laura Lifshitz will work for chocolate. The former MTV personality and Columbia University graduate is currently writing about divorce, sex, women’s issues, fitness, parenting, marriage and more for YourTangoNew York Times, DivorceForce, Women’s Health, Working Mother, Pop Sugar, and more. Her own website is frommtvtomommy.com.