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5 New Year's resolutions you will break

By Joshua Nichols, Staff writer
Published On: Dec 23 2011 02:42:11 PM CST
Updated On: Dec 26 2013 08:59:50 AM CST
New Year's Eve clock striking midnight

iStock / sparkia

Over the next few days, millions of Americans will make resolutions to better themselves in the new year.

They will then promptly begin breaking those same New Year's resolutions -- some before the sun rises on the first day of 2014.

Depending on which survey you believe, somewhere around three-quarters of us won't even make it three months. Another survey -- apparently there are no shortage of them when it comes to resolutions -- by the University of Washington suggests that less than half of that successful quarter of resolution-makers succeed on the first try.

If you're anything like us, that math has your head spinning and considering another New Year's resolution.

Of course, some resolutions are harder to keep than others, and which ones you choose will make all the difference in your chances of having to make the same promise to yourself next year ...

office worker stressed with 9-to-5 clocks

No. 5: This year I'm going to do more ...

One of the biggest mistakes people make with their New Year's resolutions is biting off more than they can chew.

Many people vow to do more in the new year. More traveling, more reading, more anything. And while these are great goals if you spend a lot of time doing nothing, for most people that's not the case.

We are already overcommitted. How much free time would you say you have right now? Now factor in some time-consuming resolution into your plans? Do you really think you're going to be able to stick with that resolution now?

Rather than committing to doing more, why not commit to actually doing less in 2013? Drop a commitment or two, spend more time with your family -- or just with yourself -- and watch the stress melt way in the new year.

messy bedroom closet clothes

No. 4: Get organized

For whatever reason -- the struggling economy just might have something to do with it -- resolutions to get organized have fallen off in recent years in favor of financial goals.

That's according to an annual survey conducted by FranklinCovey Products, maker of planners and other organizational tools. "Get organized" dropped from No. 4 to No. 9 in the survey's top 10 New Year's resolutions from 2010 to 2011 before dropping off all together for 2012.

Those pressing money issues are likely why organizational goals fall off so quickly in the new year. But it's important to remember that getting organized can make everything else better -- and make it easier to meet other resolutions.

If you really want to buck the trend and get organized in 2014, set specific goals, develop a time frame and break it down into smaller steps. Simply saying you want to "get organized" is too vague and will only set you up for failure.

Broken piggy bank, bills, money, debt

No. 3: Money, money, money

If you doubt how much impact money has on New Year's resolutions, take one look at FranklinCovey's resolutions survey.

For 2011, financial goals made up three of the top five spots, including "improve financial situation" at No. 1. In 2012 it fell one spot to No. 2, behind only "become more physically fit."

But, as with "getting organized," most money resolutions fail because they are so vague. While it's easy to vow to "save more" or "spend less" on New Year's Eve, such a fuzzy goal is hard to measure by the end of the January -- let alone the end of the year.

Start with baby steps like setting up an automatic savings plan, even for as little as $5 a week. Or decide to cut out a specific luxury, such as that daily Starbucks run.

Small, easily attainable goals will make bigger changes more likely. Plus, don't be afraid to reward yourself -- within reason, of course -- for each small victory. You've earned it.

weight, work out, apple

No. 2: Weight loss/exercise

If you've struggled with health-related resolutions in the past, you're not alone -- not by a long shot.

According to an American Psychological Association poll conducted in March 2010, fewer than one in five adults reported being very successful with health-related resolutions such as losing weight, exercising regularly or eating a healthier diet.

One of the reasons so many fail is because of the all-or-none approach we all tend to take with resolutions. We feel great when we stick to a diet or exercising daily, but one slip has us considering our resolution "broken."

However, there's no reason a minor lapse should turn into a full-blown collapse. Instead, get right back on track. If you slip up, don't wait until next Jan. 1 to start again, but start right back up again the next day.

That same line of thinking is valuable in breaking any habit, but especially applies to our last broken resolution …

cigarettes in ash tray smoking

No. 1: Stop smoking

If you're a smoker looking to kick the habit in the new year, the numbers can be daunting.

It's said that the average smoker quits eight to 10 times before succeeding and -- as if that's not enough -- the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that the majority of quitters relapse within the first three months of quitting.

So, yeah, the deck is stacked, but don't light up just yet.

You're likely to fall off the wagon a few times along the way, so if you sneak a smoke after two weeks of abstaining, don't beat yourself up for your failure. Instead, celebrate those two weeks of progress and see if you can beat your new record.

As with any resolution you may make this year, just remember that if you fail, you're in good company as you get back on track.

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