How to make a success of your failed New Year's resolutions

Don't set goals that are too large to realistically be achieved (Source: Getty)

Were you one of the many workers who, on Monday 4 January, pledged that 2016 would be different? That this would be the year that you master the art of delegation, improve productivity, network in your lunch break and make it home for baby’s bath time? And as we hurtle into February, are you one of this same group who threw the towel in shortly after making your commitment?

If so, you’re not alone. In fact, according to research commissioned by HSBC, 54 per cent of those who make New Year’s resolutions abandon them before the end of January.

Don’t feel disheartened if you fall into this group. There are plenty of ways to achieve your workplace goals other than New Year’s resolutions.

Forget “future you”

One reason most of us fail to achieve our resolutions is that we simply don’t care enough about our future selves. Despite our intentions to make long lasting and permanent changes, humans are prone to prioritising their immediate needs above aspirations for the future. Start investing your energy into changes you can make today.

Think small

The resolutions we make often focus on big things: achieving a better work/life balance; becoming an expert in a given field; ascending the career ladder. Yet, more often than not, we lack the ways to change our lives in a meaningful way that will help us implement these intentions.

Instead, the goals that stick are on a smaller scale, those that are more achievable and have longer effects on our happiness. So set yourself bite-sized goals to reach your larger aims, such as attending a particular course, only answering emails within a given time frame, and having a conversation with senior management about your career path.

Put it into context

Despite big ambitions to change behaviour through determination alone, HSBC’s research showed that 60 per cent of people blamed a lack of willpower for failing to achieve their resolutions. Indeed, there is significant evidence to suggest that contextual cues play one of the most important roles in changing our behaviour. So design power is more effective than willpower.

In the workplace, this can be brought to life through practical measures such as changing your password to an affirmation. If your goal is to become better connected, change your desktop password to “build my network”. You’re consciously deciding on the password but unconsciously being influenced by it on a daily basis.

Be selective

Working towards too many goals at once is proven to decrease the likelihood of implementing our intentions. Despite our enthusiasm to recalibrate our lives all at once, we lack the attention required to see this through.

Instead, prioritise your objectives and focus on just one or two of these at any one time.

Embrace a nudge

HSBC’s research showed that 68 per cent of those who failed to achieve their New Year’s resolutions believe they would have been more successful had they received encouragement. Tell your support network about your goals and actively embrace their support. Likewise, use technology to provide you with digital nudges: small reminders from a smart device throughout your day will provide the nudge you need to help achieve your aims.