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You want to lose weight, stop smoking, or save more for retirement. Every year we do this and every year, 92% of us fail at New Year’s Resolutions.

A University of Scranton study found that only 8% of people will succeed in their resolutions.

So maybe you should resolve to not make a resolution this year? How would that feel?

Life can continue down the path you’ve been going, or maybe there is a more effective way of switching out the negative for the positive in your life. The problem with resolutions is we make them into a pass-fail exam.

  • I’m going to lose 15 pounds.
  • I’m going to save $1,000.
  • I’m going to stop drinking so much.

What is it about the 8% that succeed and what can we discover about actual life changes beyond resolutions? There are actually only three things that are important to impact your life change.

Focus on Progress in Resolutions

In my experience as a counselor who helps people change every single day, the first step in making a life change is to move away from the “pass-fail” mentality and move into a “progress” mentality. If you eat healthier and gain weight, that’s a success. If you do one push up more than last year, that’s a success. Stop worrying about whether you achieved the goal, and focus on the process towards the goal.

Create Micro-goals in Resolutions

In Dr. Fuhrman’s book “The End of Dieting” he talks about taste bud changes. The concept is that as we give our bodies more nutrients, we naturally want to eat things that are good for us. This process only takes 10-14 days. So something as simple as drinking one green smoothie per day may actually fuel other positive habits with little effort.

Don’t Talk About New Year’s Resolutions

When we announce goals that we are working on, our brains actually receive a rush of endorphins by announcing the goal we want to change. By doing this, it’s the equivalent of giving a child a cookie before they clean their room, rather than after. Is the child more likely to clean the room if they already have the cookie? Of course not! Instead, brag about your successes as they happen, rather than announcing what you plan to do.

Whether you want to be in the 8% that achieves their New Year’s Resolutions or you just want to create a small change, focus on progress, create micro-goals, and don’t talk about so that 2016 will be the most positive year of your life!

Traverse City counselor Joe
Joe Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC | Ambitious Results

Joseph R. Sanok, MA, LLP, LPC, NCC is a licensed counselor and the owner of Mental Wellness Counseling in downtown Traverse City.