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New Year’s Resolutions: Why They Don’t Work

3 Tips for Impactful Change

Ready for packed gyms, the overflow of curated inspirational posts on your feed, and my least favorite - new keto recipes? Well, it’s that time of the year again when nearly 50% of Americans start the new year off by making a resolution. The top resolutions generally revolve around making ourselves better human beings whether its materially, physically, or emotionally.

When it comes to the success rate, the numbers are all over the place. According to the National Library of Medicine (NLM), 46% of participants achieved their resolutions. Meanwhile, the Statistic Brain Research Institute (SBRI) recorded only 8% of participants achieved their goal. What was the difference? While we understand that most studies have varying factors, the one factor that stood out to us the most was accountability. In the NLM study, participants self-reported their progress monthly via telephone conference.

Accountability isn’t a new idea, think about the top three resolutions made every year: exercising more, losing weight, and getting organized. Major marketing companies have developed some of their most successful products by simply focusing on accountability – take for example MyFitness Pal, Weight Watchers, and the beloved Home Edit. Since getting organized is a popular resolution lets discuss why it can be challenging and what you can do to be successful.

After a chaotic end to the year, many people are eager to give themselves a fresh, organized start to the new year. But you know how the saying goes, “timing is everything.”

While January 1st may seem like the perfect time to get started on your organizational goals, we challenge you to rethink that mindset. As mentioned, for most the end of the year is filled with activities that aren’t part of our normal routine. Many people simply need to reestablish their household routine before adding a new project to it. Doing the opposite can be more stressful than helpful.

As professional organizers, our work goes beyond space organization we have the privilege to bring order to people’s lives and homes. Here’s what’s worked for our clients.

Having the Right Mindset

Be Realistic.

Don’t expect that you’re going to get your entire house organized in one day. It is a process, so patience is needed. Breaking your goal down into smaller steps helps. For example, rather than just making it a goal to organize your home, instead start with the goal of organizing one closet in your home per week. Meeting smaller goals will motivate you to continue the journey.

A caution, set your goals according to your lifestyle and what you’re able to achieve, don’t be overwhelmed by the “new year, new me” mantra.

Pro Tip: Be realistic and specific when it comes to making goals. Creating attainable goals increases our likelihood of being successful and can lead to us being more motivated.

Try Habit Stacking

Create new habits.

Habit stacking – simply put, is pairing a new habit with something you’re already doing well. For instance, before I put away my groceries, I will remove all the expired items. Whether you’re using a checklist or going room by room, breaking up the big goal of organizing your kitchen could be the method that works for you. The reason that habit stacking works so well for our clients is because their current habits are already established so linking a new habit doesn’t overwhelm them. Yet, these small changes lead to big results.

Most people have a goal but fail when they don’t make it measurable. It is easy to say that you want to be more organized, but you’d be more successful if you create a measurement of “I’d like to have a 30-minute morning routine.”

Pro Tip: Keep it simple. Habit stacking is different than implementing intentions which are linked to a certain time and place.

Implement Accountability

Have an accountability system.

Determine what works best for you, do you need the person touch of an accountability partner or is a simple automated reminder more your style? Think about it, those stats that we mentioned earlier had drastically different success rates, which could be improved by simply being more self-aware. As you consider your approach to getting organized would a 30-day decluttering challenge work for you? Or, should you invest in a decluttering coach for hands on or virtual sessions.

While you may have the determination to achieve a goal, having someone to help keep you on track can be very helpful. We here at the Modern Steward are happy to act as even more than an accountability partner- we support you, but we also work hand in hand to help you achieve your goal to have an organized home.

Pro Tip: Find someone who is more organized than you. Accountability is not linear – it can be a trade-off. For instance, you don’t have to pick a partner that has the same goal as you. While you may struggle with being organized, you may enjoy working out. While your partner may be great with organization, they may struggle with working out.

Stay positive! It can be very difficult to make changes in your life, trying not to stress over everything that it is going to take to get there, but focusing on starting. Meditating on the outcome and the benefits will help you to remember your intentions and your why. Personally, we’ve seen the value of pursuing a more organized life and household – it is worth the endeavor.


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