Resolving to Change? You May Have to Begin Again…and Again

“I'm going to start saving... meditating... getting more sleep... lose weight.” Each January, many of us resolve to make changes that will improve the quality of our lives in some way.

And yet, the success rate of New Year's Resolutions is so low. US News and World Report suggests 80% of resolutions fail by February. Why? Because change is hard, especially when it comes to lifestyle change. So how do we move beyond this statistic and make changes that we can stick to?

A first step to greater success is to make the shift from dreaming to reality-based thinking. This starts with understanding that the more changes you want to make, the more support you're going to need. Lifestyle change is hard, and motivation just doesn't last. People often set far-reaching, aggressive goals that are not backed up by enough structure, planning and accountability. Old behaviors die hard, and “change” requires ongoing support. Without it, even a resolution to make a minor change can boil down to dreaming. Dreaming without support leads to roadblocks that can be difficult to get past on your own. And once you get side-tracked from your goal, All-or-Nothing Thinking can creep in and complicate matters.

We’ve all been there - whether it's thinking in extremes (“I always...” and “You never...”) or letting a particular event color your whole perspective (“I stammered during that speech, I'm a terrible public speaker”), all-or-nothing thinking can quickly derail your progress toward your goals. There will inevitably come a time when things might not go well for a day, or a week – because life happens! It’s in these moments, especially, when all-or-nothing thinking can wreak havoc on our focus. We may hear a familiar internal talk track, “I'll never lose this weight – I’ve failed before and here I go again,” or, “This isn't the right time – I’ve got too much going on right now,” or, “I'll never be the type of person who can keep it all going.” None of these are necessarily true, but All-or-Nothing Thinking certainly has them feel that way. And in those moments, the easiest thing to do is to give up. Resolution gone. So, what should you do when you get side-tracked? First, recognize that you’re not alone – we’re all susceptible to All-or-Nothing Thinking! And then, the action step is to...


There will always, always be obstacles and setbacks. Change is hard! But a setback is not the end - unless you say it is. And a necessary element for achieving your goals, no matter how big or small, is continuing to work toward them amidst setbacks - develop your Begin Again response. So, the next time you get sidetracked? Begin again. Hit a roadblock? Begin again. Feeling like you failed? Begin again, and again. People rarely meet their goals without encountering setbacks. A defining aspect of progress is staying engaged in the process. That's the reality that makes it possible to follow resolutions, meet your goals, and achieve the results you're striving for.