The odds are that you have already given up of violated your New Year’s resolution.
We are one month into resolution season. Millions of us made the decision to take the plunge into a new plan to accomplish a self-improvement goal. Statistics show that 40% of Americans will make a resolution, but only 8% will succeed in achieving it. Around one-third of us will quit before the end of the first month. This goal or resolution is likely to lose weight or “be healthier”. The holiday season is full of blissful self-indulgence and dietary lapses that have now packed on a few pounds. The pleasure of the family gatherings and parties is now passing into our rearview mirrors, and many of us will now abruptly change directions and correct the lapses by adopting New Year’s resolutions that will put us on the path toward improved health in the new year.
On the last or first day of every year, millions of Americans concoct at least one New Year’s resolution that they won’t be able to complete. Still, we keep making them year after year despite the repeated failings. As with every year, I did the same thing expecting this time to be different. Maybe it is not the tradition we need to change but our expectations.
Why do our New Year’s resolutions fail?
- Our goals are too lofty. We pronounce a huge sweeping proposal to do something we could never accomplish. If you intend to lose 100 pounds and get into those jeans with a 32-inch waist like you had in high school, it is probably not going to happen. Your metabolism and lifestyle in much different at 30-50 years old than it was back then. Sure there are those that accomplish them, but that is exceptionally rare.
We naturally put things off until later. Our nature is to procrastinate. I have never found someone that does not delay action a little. We eat a feast at Thanksgiving and procrastinate all the way to the New Year, and this act of delaying or procrastinating is what destines many of us to fail.
- We lack social support. Our families and friends continually undermine our quest for success. It can be as simple as an administrative assistant that bakes cookies once a week or a son that wants to have pizza three times a week. Temptation is the evil stepsister of resolution making.
- Our resolutions are too numerous. Imagine you are a juggler. If I give you one or two balls, you will be successful. If I give you an entire bucket of balls, you are going to drop some. Making a decision to change your life is tough and the more you pile on at once, the harder it is going to be to keep your plan for health.
So let’s refocus on our resolution and make it happen, but this time let’s make the objectives and our expectations realistic.
Recommendations to keep your resolution:
- Develop a plan and stick to it. The plan must be very detailed, and you must revisit the plan daily. If the objective is to lose weight, the plan must include meals, exercise, and shipping. If you don’t organize a strategy, you will be more likely to stray. Build up slowly, and you will be less likely to quit prematurely.
- Use an App. Cell phone and tablet applications are the keys to tracking our progress and obstacles we face. Lose-it and similar apps make tracking our exercise and calorie intake nearly effortless.
- Declare your resolution to all. Publically let your friends and family know through social media and face to face communication that you propose to change and that you need their help. Hopefully, they will support your endeavor.
- Develop confidence that you can accomplish your goal. If you doubt your ability, you will inevitably fail. Look at your plan and visualize the successful route to take to get to that objective. You will be successful and you will not let a small slip get in between you and success.
- Start and finish dates are critical to success. Pick a start date and don’t procrastinate. If you put it off until tomorrow, you will be more likely to not even start.
- Treat yourself to a reward. As you make progress toward the goal, find a reward for making a step toward the ultimate aim. The point is a reward and not a smorgasbord.
- Embrace change. The final objective should be a lifestyle change. We need to get away from the idea that we can make a small change to get to the goal and then revert to the old way of life. That will end in the same result. Embrace the new lifestyle or you will end where you are today.
- Have a realistic expectation and goal. Realism is the most critical of my five suggestions. You must pick a goal of sensible quantity and quality. If you start with a grandiose plan to be a millionaire in 12 months, you are unlikely to be successful. I usually recommend that folks have a short and long term goals. The short-term goals are sort of like baby steps toward the ultimate aim. For example, “I will lose two-three pounds a month until I lose a total of 15 pounds and maintain this weight loss over the next year”.
Remember that many successful resolvers will “slip” later in January. This road bump is because often we start too early in January and a hangover filed 1 January is not a great day to make changes. A slip need not be a fall. Expect small road bumps on the path to success and pick yourself up and drive forward. Use your slips to strengthened your resolve. Recommit to your plan following a slip. It is only one missed step in a marathon, it is only a detour, and you can make up for it. Good luck and focus on success and don’t procrastinate to next year.