If you need proof that positive change is often a lost cause, look no further than your New Year's resolutions. Most of us believe that when the clock strikes 12:00 on December 31, a magical motivational switch will flip in our brains, allowing us to finally lose weight, get organized, or save more money. This year, we say, everything is going to be different.
The stats tell a very different story, and a depressing one at that: 45 percent of people set a New Year's resolution, but only 8 percent of them actually achieve success.
Despite our lip service to change, most of us don't go much further than halfheartedly mentioning our resolutions to a friend or writing them down, if we do that much. By the time March rolls around, we're right back where we started, if not worse.
It comes down to this: Successful change is all about your mindset.
In 2002, John Norcross, PhD, professor of psychology at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania, found that readiness to change, or how prepared a person is to enter the action stage of behavior change, is the single best predictor of success in keeping New Year's resolutions. I'm going to double down on that and say it’s your best predictor of success at any time, in any aspect of your life. In my experience, it’s really all that matters.
In his research on New Year's resolutions, Dr. Norcross also found that “resolvers” reported higher rates of success than “non-resolvers.” At 6 months, 46 percent of the resolvers were continuously successful, compared to 4 percent of the non-resolvers. This goes to show that the simple act of setting an intention or goal is a big step toward achieving it. As the old adage holds, "All change begins within"; now we have proof.
To make sure that your resolution is successful, follow these important steps: