We are almost three weeks into 2016 and many people will participate in the popular annual ritual of setting New Years Resolutions to reclaim health, lose weight, save money, or some combination of the above.
Why do most New Year’s resolutions fail? There are many factors at play here but, in my opinion, I believe most people fail because they lack one or more of the following:
Lack of a plan:
Most people set their goals haphazardly and often only because the change in calendar year prompted them to do so. Goals need to be clear, well thought-out and specific. They need actionable steps with deadlines. With a solid plan, it is possible to take a large task and break it down into smaller, more manageable chunks. This also makes it easier to monitor progress. For example, if there are 10 steps to losing weight, and I’ve only completed 3 steps, then that goal is 30% complete.
Lack of support/accountability:
Most people are perfectly fine with breaking promises to themselves but will fight much harder to keep from disappointing others. Why is a promise made to yourself less valuable than a promise made to someone else? The answer is accountability. Stating your resolutions and goals out loud and in public, will give you some extra motivation because now others are watching. Also, if you can partner with someone who is trying to achieve something similar, you can always motivate each other.
Lack of consequences:
Its easy enough to break a resolution made only to ourselves after all, no one will ever know if we’ve failed. Everyone breaks resolutions so who cares? Better luck next year. Its often beneficial to set a minor consequence for not completing a goal, especially if you have someone to hold you accountable. It’s classic behavior modification. For example: Failure to meet financial goals requires you to train for and run a 5K.
Since traditional New Years resolutions have a high rate of failure, I suggest skipping this annual ritual all together and opting for something more simple: A RECIPE.
A recipe is a perfect analogy for how a resolution should be created: We have a resolution/picture (in our mind) of the finished product (for example: a delicious grass-fed steak). Then we need to gather the ingredients (steak, salt and pepper, butter) and create actionable steps to move us closer to our goal (cook in a cast iron skillet at med-high heat for 2-3 min per side).
So what can we do to improve our chances of success in 2016? Choose recipes instead!
Here are some rules for achieving success:
- The get a buddy rule – There is truly strength in numbers when it comes to resolutions. Whether it is a workout buddy or a mentor to bounce ideas off, increase your odds of success by asking others to hold you accountable.
- The hire an expert rule – Stuck at the same weight for years? Workout program derailed by the same nagging injuries year after year? Maybe its time to skip the self-help route and seek the expertise of someone better trained.
- The keep it simple rule – The human brain can only keep track of 2 or 3 to-do items at a time. Keep your goals short and simple. You can always add more once you’ve completed the first few.
- The be specific rule – The more detail about your goal, the better: Where will you workout? How much is a membership? What time will you schedule you fitness? Do you need to buy new equipment? etc.
Of course we could add many more tips, but that would be breaking our rule of simplicity wouldn’t it? Start with these and set new goals as the original ones are completed. Chip away at each one daily and monitor your progress along the way.
Finally, a wise man was once asked: “If you were forced to do so, how would you eat an elephant?” He replied: “One bite at a time.” Keep this in mind when setting goals for 2016.
If you need some extra help, and are in the Vancouver, BC area, join us on Wednesday, January 2oth at 6:15pm for Part One of our “New Year, New You” series: How to Make Nutrition and Fitness Resolutions That Last.