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Why Resolutions Are Almost Impossible to Keep, According to James Clear

“A brief guide to compounding:

If you don’t enjoy something, you won’t stick with it.

If you don’t stick with it, it won’t compound.

Being interested precedes the results.”

-James Clear, author of Atomic Habits.


Undoubtedly today you will be bombarded with emails about New Year Sales, Limited Time Only Offers, and Gym Membership Deals. If you can sort through the noise and take a moment to reflect, you mind find that you're hard on yourself. What is the point of setting another resolution, when we didn't keep the ones we set last year (or the year before)?

As January begins our collective reset, it helps to look at the WHY behind our goals. Some have shifted away from calling them resolutions, and prefer to think of them more as intentions. When we remember that our intention is to feel healthier or become a better version of ourselves, we are focusing on the WHY, or the core identity change underneath the habit. It then becomes easier to maintain the new habit, because we can see the habit-forming as a process.

Additionally, we will do well to remember that progress is often slow and non-linear. When we go a day without practicing the intention, it is crucial to treat failure like a scientist would. This allows patience for ourselves, and approaches the failure or misstep with curiosity instead of harsh judgment. We can ask ourselves, "So I didn't stick to a healthy diet today. Interesting. What could have contributed to that? How do I set myself up better next time?"

Whatever your attitude toward the New Year is, remember to build on habits you're already practicing, and don't forget to make it enjoyable! When you speak to yourself like an understanding friend or mentor, as opposed to a harsh authority figure focused on outcomes alone, you're much more likely to succeed.


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