Sticking to Your New Year's Resolution
The New Year is upon us! New year, new you right? Most of us will likely commit to a New Year’s resolution and strive to change an aspect of our lives to improve and exceed our former selves. Whether it be diet, exercise, mental health, new hobbies, new friends, or even a new venture, it all has to start somewhere. But starting something new is tough, especially in the beginning. So as you might have expected, 80% of people fail to stick to their resolutions by February. Unfortunately, life-changing commitments are just hard to commit to without a plan and a process.
So in this blog post, I’m going to be covering the common mishaps and roadblocks that you’ll come across on your New Year’s resolution, then I’ll go over a step by step plan to help you overcome all these obstacles.
Why People Fail To Stick To Their New Year’s Resolution
The truth is that there is no single reason people fail to stick to their New Year’s resolutions. Life just tends to get in the way. There are commonalities though.
We all tend to take on too much, too fast. If you resolve to a specific diet, a new exercise routine, and tackle new hobbies in the month after the holidays, you’re setting yourself up for failure. You’ll burn out, quit, and got back to the Netflix binges and pizza parties of one.
Another big reason we fall off our resolutions is that results tend to come over time, not immediately. One 2016 study from the University of Chicago found that the biggest predictor that people would keep to their long-term goals was whether they received an immediate reward. The fact of the matter is that delayed gratification just isn’t much of a motivator. You say you’re hitting the gym for your future health, but then you don’t enjoy it in the moment and fail to see results quickly so you drop out. The first few weeks of doing something new are almost always the worst. You’re unfit, unpracticed and just unable to cope. Combine that with the often-miserable January weather, post-holiday blues, and work stress, and no one is going to be having any fun until those results start to show two months down the line.
A lot of us also approach New Year’s resolutions with an all-or-nothing attitude. We go from zero to 100 with no warm-up or consultation with reality. If you haven’t dieted in years, resolving to a super restrictive diet is a ludicrous goal — it’s practically unattainable. If and when you don’t meet it, instead of reassessing the goal, you chalk it up as a failure and give up. The same thing tends to happen with most goals, you can’t run a marathon if you haven’t done cardio exercise in years.
The final thing is the starting line that the new year sets. We all love hard deadlines or starting points. Every exercise program begins on a Monday or the first of next month — or on Jan. 1. The New Year is a good time to reflect and set goals. But it also makes things harder when we mess up because we tend not to get back up and continue where we failed. We simply reset at the next hard start line, like the following year perhaps?
How To Set A New Year’s Resolution
So now we know that we all tend to set unrealistic goals, take on too much too soon, and then get discouraged because of the lack of immediate gratifications. Our resolutions are either too vague to be useful or too hard to get done, so they don’t motivate you at all. Instead, resolutions work best when they are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound also known as SMART Goals.
SMART is an acronym you can use to guide your goal setting. Setting SMART goals means you can clarify your ideas, focus your efforts, use your time and resources productively, and increase your chances of achieving what you want through your resolutions.
Your goal should be clear and specific, otherwise, you won't be able to focus your efforts or feel truly motivated to achieve it. When drafting your goal, try to answer the five "W" questions:
What do I want to accomplish?
Why is this goal important?
Who is involved?
Where is it located?
Which resources or limits are involved?
If you’re wanting to lose weight, a specific goal could be,” I want to follow an exercise and specific diet program (like keto/low carb) to lose 20 lbs and improve my health to better provide for my family.”
It's important to have measurable goals so that you can track your progress and stay motivated. Assessing progress helps you to stay focused, meet your deadlines, and feel the excitement of getting closer to achieving your goal.
A measurable goal should address questions such as:
How will I know when it is accomplished?
You might measure your goal of following an exercise and diet program by determining that you have to exercise a set number of times per week and by adhering to your eating goals 90% of the time to lose 1 lb per week until you lose the 20lbs.
Your goal also needs to be realistic and attainable to be successful. In other words, it should stretch your abilities but still remain possible. When you set an achievable goal, you may be able to identify previously overlooked opportunities or resources that can bring you closer to it.
An achievable goal will usually answer questions such as:
How can I accomplish this goal?
How realistic is the goal, based on other constraints, such as time and finances?
You might need to ask yourself whether committing to an exercise routine or a specific diet is realistic, based on your existing experience with exercise and dieting. For example, do you have the time to complete the required training effectively or cook the right meals? Are the necessary resources available to you? Can you afford to do it?
This step is about ensuring that your goal matters to you and that it also aligns with other relevant goals. We all need support and assistance in achieving our goals, but it's important to retain control over them. So, make sure that your plans drive everyone forward, but that you're still responsible for achieving your own goal.
A relevant goal can answer "yes" to these questions:
Does this seem worthwhile?
Is this the right time?
Does this match our other efforts/needs?
Am I the right person to reach this goal?
Is it applicable in the current socio-economic environment?
You might want to lose weight but is it the right time to undertake a new routine in your life? Have you considered your spouse's goals? For example, if you want to start a diet, would your new food choices be well received by your family?
Every goal needs a target date so that you have a deadline to focus on and something to work toward. This part of the SMART goal criteria helps to prevent everyday tasks from taking priority over your longer-term goals.
A time-bound goal will usually answer these questions:
What can I do six months from now?
What can I do six weeks from now?
What can I do today?
Committing to a new diet and exercise routine may require you learn to cook different meals or workout in a different way. How long will it take you to acquire these skills? Do you need further training, so that you can do it on your own? It's important to give yourself a realistic time frame for accomplishing the smaller goals that are necessary to achieving your final objective.
I hope the SMART goal system will help you narrow down all those resolution options and allow you to choose something you can commit to the long term. Ultimately, it should be something you want to change indefinitely not just for a while. Just remember, change takes times and results come with consistency. It’s a marathon, not a sprint to the finish.
If you are changing your diet, however, I suggest one or both of these options - a low carb diet and intermittent fasting. Finally, do yourself a favor and prep your meals in advance as to not let your lack of options tempt you! Bring a pack of our cookies around :)