January is the most motivated month of the year. Gyms are overflowing, people are saving more money, health bars, supplements, and skin care products are flying off the shelves. Then February hits!
According to a study by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people actually achieve their New Years Resolutions. Of the 92% who don't, more than half give up on their resolutions before January 17th. That means that statistically... you've given up by now. If you haven't, you are already ahead of half of the population!
So how do we become one of the 8%? There are a couple of methods that have shown the most promise, so let's start there.
Use your friends and family
The most effective way to achieve a goal is to have others hold you accountable. Motivation and discipline are both extremely cyclical and many of us can't stay on track at the low-point. By telling your friends and family about your goals, you allow them to hold you accountable even when you don't. If you can persist through the bottom of your motivation you will inspire yourself with your own success. Doing so creates a positive cycle where you keep your goals, which makes you feel more inspired, which helps you keep your goals. On top of it all, you will begin to notice the progress you're making!
Motivation is like bathing...
Do something every day that reinforces your goals and makes you focus. Motivation is like bathing because it doesn't last. Therefore, we recommend applying daily. Writing your goal in a notebook, saying your goal out loud, or starting your goal at the beginning of the day are all great ways to reapply your motivation. It's often discouraging that your motivation doesn't last, but it is completely natural. All you have to do is hold on tight to what's left until your actions become a habit.
Just make it 66 days!
As of today (January 23) you are 1/3 of the way to creating an "automatic habit". At that point, the goal you are stressing about right now will be so natural that you will forget you do it. The 66-day rule was developed by Phillipa Lally, a researcher at University College London. Published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, her study examined 96 people over a 12-week period to determine how long it took for a new task to feel automatic. The evidence showed that it takes at least two months and on average about 66 days.
According to this study, you don't actually have to keep your goal all the way until December 31, you just have to stay steady until the first week of March! After that, the motivation we so often lack won't be an issue any more, and you can shift your energy and focus to other aspects of your life.
Make smart goals.
It's worth keeping in mind that some goals just aren't very smart. The same motivation that takes the wheel in January can get pretty irrational, and often leads to overblown goals that won't happen regardless of who you are. Now that January is coming for a close, reevaluate your goals and see if they still feel possible. It's better to trim a goal then to drop it. If your goal was "eat no sugar for all of 2020", changing that goal to "only eat sugar once a day" will serve you way better than blowing all of your discipline in the first few months and then eating more sugar later because "you earned it".
Remind yourself every day that you deserve the change you are making. Remember that you set these goals on January 1 to improve your life and make yourself happier, not to torture yourself. This journey isn't about perfection or discipline, it's about change and improvement. And most of all, you can do it!