Three-Month Check-Up: Why We Backslide

It’s March. How are you doing on those New Year’s Resolutions? Have you successfully joined the 8 percent who maintain their goals? If so, congratulations! If not, let’s talk about why.

Why do we backslide on our goals? What is it about our goals that cause us to “relapse”? Or, does the issue lie within ourselves?

There are many possible reasons for why our New Year’s Resolutions just didn’t work out. We often cite a lack of time, money, or willpower as the culprit. But, let’s explore some more likely reasons why you may have slipped up.


1) You didn’t set your goals right in the first place.

In the case of New Year’s Resolutions, specificity is key. There’s a big difference between “I will lose weight” and “I will run 3 miles each day for 100 days”. Which one sounds more like the resolution you set for 2017?

Not only does specificity help us determine what exactly we’re working towards, but it also helps us determine how. Losing weight is great, but how do you plan to do so? Making your resolution as specific as possible means that you don’t wake up on January 1 (or tomorrow) saying, “Uh, what do I do now?”

So, pull out that wrinkled piece of notebook paper on which you scribbled your New Year’s resolution, and reevaluate its specificity. Rewrite it to satisfy the “what”, “when”, and “for how long”, and jump back on the horse. Use Resolution Club to help.


2) You didn’t prepare.

Hey, some people can break habits and achieve goals cold-turkey. Sometimes we’ll hear from (and scour at) people who say, “Yeah, I just woke up and started exercising” or “It’s the craziest thing…One day, I just didn’t have the urge to smoke anymore”. Good for them.

A study conducted by the American Society for Training and Development showed that people who mentally and physically prepared for their goals increased their completion probability by 50%. After all, preparation is number three of the five stages of behavior change. If you tried to jump into your New Year’s resolution on January 1 only to fall flat on January 2, that’s okay. Pick yourself up, create a game plan, and try again.

For you, preparation could look like:

  • Tracking your progress. Buy a special journal for your goal-keeping and keep it by your bed. Mark up an empty calendar on the days you complete your goal. Utilize a resolution-tracking app like Resolution Club so you can visualize your progress and keep pushing forward.
  • Looping in your friends and family. In the same study by ASTD, people who committed to their goal and shared it with someone else increased their goal completion probability by 65%, and people who appointed a specific accountability partner increased their probability by 95%.In short, involving those around you increases your odds of success. Sharing boosts your accountability, clarity, progression, motivation, and much more. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Keep your loved ones in the loop, and allow them to track your progress with you.
  • Joining a community of people working towards the same goal. This could be a writer’s meetup group, a gym or online health community, or a support group for smokers. Surround yourself with a community that be a source of support when times get tough. Because they definitely


3) You didn’t give yourself a dang break.

John Norcross, professor of Psychology at Scranton University in Pennsylvania and author of Changeology, provides three tips for sticking to your goals. Numbers one and two involve tracking your progress and adapting your environment to success (i.e. avoiding casinos if trying to save money). Okay, simple enough.

His third tip, though, is almost too easy (or hard, depending on how you look at it). “Expect to mess up,” he’s said in countless interviews. In fact, one of his studies showed that 71 percent of those who successfully kept their resolution for two years were thankful for their first “slip”. It actually strengthened their efforts; they learned from their mistakes and got right back on track.

So, whether you stopped working on your New Year’s resolution on January 2 or yesterday, consider it a “pause”, not giving up. Embrace your slips, and don’t quit if you break your diet, miss a workout, smoke a cigarette, or splurge on a purchase. Make note of what caused you to derail, and keep pushing forward.

It’s March (or any month in which you’re reading this), but it’s as good a time as any to get started on (or try again at) those New Year’s resolutions. In fact, New Year’s is not the key to successful resolutions. Now that we’ve passed the madness and pressure of the new year, you may have a better chance to make those goals stick, especially if you utilize a tool like Resolution Club.

Resolution Club is a place to set, measure, and complete daily resolutions with the help of your family and friends. By utilizing Facebook, Resolution Club creates a community of support while we resolve to better ourselves and the world. Resolution Club acknowledges the lack of willpower that most of us face, and challenges us to take our resolutions day by day.

With Resolution Club, you’ll have a greater chance of keeping your resolution, regardless of when you set it. Join Resolution Club today.