The ball drops in Times Square.

Fireworks go off across the world.

Someone asks you about your New Year’s resolution, and as you blurt out your response, you quietly realize it’s the same resolution you set for yourself last year.

And the year before last.

And the year before last year, too.

Ouch! Why is it that achieving a New Year’s resolution is so hard?

Well, first of all, before you start feeling bad for yourself, know that if you didn’t achieve the New Year’s resolution you set for yourself last year, or in previous years, you’re not alone. Some research shows that only 8% of people who set their resolutions actually achieve them.

Now, some experts will tell you that you achieving a resolution is hard because it’s easier to set smaller goals and work toward them daily.  Well, I’m not gonna argue with that, daily improvement is something we should all work toward.  But it’s a load of…well, you know what…to think that we shouldn’t set big goals every year and then come up with a plan to achieve them.

After all, man’s greatest achievements come from setting big goals and then working on them day in, day out, until the goal is realized.

There’s lots of things you can do to increase the chances that you’ll achieve the resolution you set for yourself, or any goal for that matter. But there’s also things you’ve probably been doing that you don’t even realize, keeps you from fulfilling your New Year’s resolution.

Here’s 7 reasons people don’t achieve their new year’s resolution. Avoid these at all costs if you want to accomplish your big goal this year.

1. They don’t really want to achieve it

If you’ve had a goal you’ve sort-of-wanted to achieve for years, but haven’t made much progress on it yet, ask yourself how bad you want to achieve it.  Achieving a big goal requires dedication, hard work, and discipline. If you don’t want to achieve it with every ounce of your being, it’s not likely you’re going to put in the time and effort needed to achieve it.

So if you want to achieve a big goal, make sure it’s something you’re passionate about, and something you’re ready to put your heart and soul into.

2. They don’t set it, the right way

Most people set goals the wrong way. If your resolution over the years was something like “be healthier” or “make more money” or “have more energy,” you’ve set yourself up for failure.

Goals need to be structured correctly so that you’ll be able to:

  • create a specific plan
  • understand clearly whether you’re making the progress you need to get to your goal
  • know exactly when you’ve achieved it

One way to do this is to use the acronym SMART to set your resolution. Make it Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

If you’ve been frustrated because you haven’t made progress on a goal, or resolution, you set for yourself in the past, and your goal wasn’t ‘SMART,’ go back to the beginning and structure your goal the right way. Skip this step at your own peril.

3. They don’t create a plan

While life would be a whole lot easier if we could just ask a genie in a bottle to grant us our wishes, life doesn’t work that way.

In order to achieve your resolution, you’ll want to set a concrete plan of action that will guide you to your goal. It doesn’t have to be perfect, or rigid, but it does need to have set steps you can take that will get you in the right direction.

4. They don’t track their progress

New Year’s resolutions aren’t meant to be set in January and reviewed again in December. Nope, if you want to achieve your resolution, you’ll want to track your progress throughout the year so you’ll know whether you’re on target to achieve your goal.

It’s a good idea to set up daily, weekly and monthly tracking so you’ll see whether you’re on target to achieve your resolution, or whether you need to adjust your plan.

5. They don’t adjust their plan

Tracking your progress is pointless unless you adjust your plan so you’ll make the progress you need. If your goal is to lose 50 pounds this year, and you’ve only lost 5 pounds after 3 months, it’s time to adjust your plan…otherwise you’re going to fall short of your big goal.

6. They make excuses

“I hurt my knee so I couldn’t exercise”.

“My boss promoted someone else, so I couldn’t make any more money.”

“I would quit smoking if I wasn’t so stressed”.

We all make excuses. Heck, making excuses is the easy thing to do when we’re falling short of our target. But excuses are toxic on our path to achieving our goals.

If you want to achieve your resolution, kick excuses to the curb. Instead of telling yourself why you’re not making the progress you should be making, ask yourself how you can get to your goal faster.

Your brain is a brilliant machine and you’ll get the right answer no matter what question you ask it. Make sure you’re asking the right questions.

7. They don’t believe they can achieve it

Belief is a funny thing. Give two similar people the same goal, and it’s the person who believes they can achieve it, who will.  If you don’t believe you’ll achieve your resolution, no advice or tools are going to help you.

But if you do believe in yourself, and that you’ll achieve your New Year’s resolution, there’s nothing that can stop you.

So, Happy New Year and here’s to achieving the goals you set for yourself in 2014!

Here are six things you can get started doing right now to develop effective New Year resolutions: 6 Steps to Making Effective New Year Resolutions

Featured photo credit: Keoni Cabral via photopin cc

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