Part 6: Why your resolutions failed by February – making habits stick

Hello beautiful. I hope you’re keeping safe and well.

In early February I made a commitment to myself to take care of the health issues that were making life harder for me, my relationships, and my family as a whole.

With a plan stuck to the fridge I had a surge of energy. But we all know that 80% of new year’s resolutions fail by February. And so, inevitably, my good intentions began to slip.

The first day it was just the ten-minute mindfulness. Then I went a few days without any exercise. I forgot to take my supplements a few times. The more I didn’t do things, the more I felt ok about not doing them. When you’re on a roll, you don’t want to break your winning streak. But when you’re not, another slip-up feels negligible.

Anyone who has ever been on a diet knows how hard it is to be “perfect”. And how hard you can crave a Big Mac when it’s on the list of forbidden foods.

To help me stay on the straight and narrow, I did a little research on why most resolutions fail. Three points came up again and again.

First is a lack of accountability. When you don’t get into trouble for slipping up, it’s easier to do. I noticed with some foods my stomach bloated up, painfully. That immediate feedback was enough to put me off my chips. But when I skip a 10-minute meditation, there’s no immediate repercussion. I needed to think of a way to hold myself accountable – to someone else.

The second idea is that resolution-setters are goal-oriented rather than process-oriented. For example, “lose 5kg” rather than “go for a run at 5pm every Monday and Thursday”. At first glance, I didn’t think this applied to me. While I have an overall goal (stop being so damn tired all the time), I have already broken that down into many parts.

But I noticed that some of these parts were in the form of a mini-goal, rather than a process. For example, “drink more green tea”. I needed to get really specific with each of my new habits. So, for example, “drink a cup of green tea with lunch every day”.

Photo by Maria Tyutina on

The final barrier I read about is that we may be – subconsciously – scared of success. We create an identity for ourselves. And even though ‘being exhausted all the time’ isn’t my favourite part of myself, it has definitely become a significant part of my identity in recent months. 

Perhaps it acts as a crutch, or excuse. “If only I weren’t always exhausted I would… [get fitter, have a tidy house, etc]”. But if I solve my exhaustion, I won’t have that excuse anymore. The more I think about it, the more plausible this idea seems. 

It looks like I need to do a bit of work on my old perfectionism, to help me relinquish this part of myself, and give myself the best chance of success.

In this series of articles – The Wellbeing Quest – I’m recording my efforts to beat my health issues, including chronic fatigue. It’s lovely to see you here.

Next time: Recovery isn’t linear. I play a game of wellbeing whack-a-mole; as one issue is resolved, another emerges.

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