Ah, the “jump on the bandwagon” mentality of New Year’s resolutions. The allure of a full year when you can magically transform into a new you makes it hard not to follow the crowd.
Sure, it’s tempting to commit to a New Year’s resolution. After all, everyone else is proudly posting on social media their resolutions — hitting the gym seven days a week, going low-carb, or finally mastering their money.
And by the end of the year, we’ve all hit our goals.
In fact, a study reveals that while everyone is gung-ho on January 1st, nearly a quarter of folks fail to keep their resolutions by February.
Let’s take a closer look at exactly why New Year’s resolutions don’t work, and what does:
Why New Year’s resolutions fail
Here are a handful of reasons why it can be so hard to keep a New Year’s resolutions:
- You have unrealistic expectations. Let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to go from having zero to $5,000 in your bank account. That would be the same as trying to lose 20 pounds within a week, or becoming vegan overnight. If your expectations are unrealistic, you’ll likely fall short and lose motivation.
- They’re too vague. Perhaps your New Year’s resolution is to have “better financial health,” or to “work out more.” Because they’re too general, you won’t have a way to plot out the steps to get there, points out psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert, author of Be Fearless: Change Your Life in 28 Days. For instance, while a lot of people want to “lose weight,” I want to lower my blood sugar and cholesterol levels. This is much more specific and applicable to me.
- You’re framing them negatively. Have these thoughts ever crossed your mind? “I need to lose weight because I look too heavy.” “I need to pay off my credit card debt because my friends think I’m a loser.” We’ve all been there. Those negative thoughts will only lead to bouts of self-loathing. What about framing them in a positive light? Take note of these better options: “I want to exercise more so I can feel better.” Or “I want to crush my credit card debt so I can free up money to use in other ways.”
- You’re feeling overwhelmed. Trying to change everything at once is bound to lead to failure. So pick something achievable and work toward that.
What to do instead of making a New Year’s resolution
Focus on gradually changing your habits instead of trying to achieve a massive goal in record time.
It turns out that it takes 66 days, not 30, to form a new habit. So, give yourself sufficient time to change your ways. Here are some ideas to do this.
- Try an if/then statement. A study reveals that changing a habit can be as simple as using an “if/then statement.” For instance, if you’re trying to keep better track of your money, start with “If I am having my morning coffee, then I will log in to my mobile banking app and check my balance.”
- Make it easy. The road to real, long-lasting change is hard. And you’re bound to encounter a few hiccups along the way. Back to financial goals: Let’s say you’re trying to save for an emergency fund. If you have a bank account with Chime, you can set up automatic savings.
- Develop systems. Systems and structures can support you in reaching your goals. If you’re a Chime member, features like direct deposit can help you get paid up to two days early.
- Expect to lapse. There will be times when you’re on track, keeping yourself accountable, and feeling like a regular badass. And there will inevitably be times when you’ll fall off the bandwagon and need time to recoup. When I was trying to cut back on carbs, I had sprints when I was doing great. And then there were times when I would lapse back into my pizza-eating ways.
Focus on gradual change
Instead of a New Year’s resolution, focus on developing positive habits over time. There’s no overnight solution. It takes patience, grit, and long-term commitment. Are you ready to give it try and develop positive, lasting habits?
This page is for informational purposes only. Chime does not provide financial, legal, or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for financial, legal or accounting advice. You should consult your own financial, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction.