It’s coming to that time of year. Time for New Year, New You. Again.
The problem is with New Years resolutions. Or more specifically, how most of us go about setting them. We tend to shoot for the big massive goal, or goals, often with little thought of how we will actually get there. Aiming high is great, necessary in fact if you really want to make a significant change, but how you frame the goal is key to your success.
By the end of January, around 92% of the resolutions set on the 1st have fallen to the wayside. So why do so many people fail so quickly with their plans and, more importantly, how can you avoid joining into the 90%+ that fail?
Why your resolutions fail
You set too many.
How many people each year say something along the lines of, ”I’m going to get fitter, eat less (insert food group here), save money, read more, be tidier, etc, etc, etc?
How many are still doing half of these by mid-January? Approximately 0. Focus and willpower are finite and having too many ideas to spread them between soon drains the tank and inevitably, they all fall off.
Not specific enough
Saying you’re going to get fitter, or make more money, or eat better are nice intentions, but if you don’t have a clear idea of where you want to be, how on Earth are you going to get here?
Piggybacking on the last one, focussing on outcomes doesn’t say how you are going to get where you want to be. Saying you’re going to get fitter or eat better is fine, but it’s been shown that by focussing on an outcome, as soon as you break whatever rule you have set, you see it as a failure and the resolution quickly comes to an end.
Too restrictive/ unrealistic.
This happens a lot with particular food groups, carbs or fat usually taking the hit. Though it’s funny how no one ever says they’re going to cut down on protein…
But what happens when you’re out for a meal? Or at a friends place for lunch and pasta is on the menu. Being too restrictive puts too many limits on you and I can pretty much guarantee that you will eventually cave, and another resolution bites the dust.
What to do instead?
How are you going to track measure your success? Will you have gained a certain amount of muscle or lost a certain amount of fat? Will you have completed a certain number of gym sessions?
Being specific helps with the next tip…
Make them process based.
Saying you’re going to get fitter is all well and good, but how? By focussing on the process, you can gauge progress more easily.
Decide how many training sessions you can realistically do each week and measure your progress against that. This year I set a goal of 200 training sessions in the year, and while I fell slightly short (187), I was more consistent than I might have been otherwise.
You’re going to lose weight? Great. How? Try one of these options to help:
Eat protein at each and every meal.
Eat till you’re only 80% full.
Instead of reaching for a slice of cake or chocolate bar each afternoon, swap these for a piece of fruit.
There are many other options but make them process based to help you towards success.
Cutting out carbs completely just isn’t going to happen. Same with fat. You need a certain amount to fuel your daily activity and stay somewhat sane. What you can do is cut the portion size a little, as many people overestimate how much they need, and swap highly processed carbs for their less processed counterparts.
Running every morning and weight training every evening might be ok if you are at Uni, but for those of us with jobs, it’s not a sustainable approach. Doable, absolutely, but probably not sustainable over the long term.
You have to be honest with what you can sustainably manage. Not a sexy idea I grant you, but one that definitely gets results. If you can’t look at a goal and say with confidence that you can do it limits your chance of success.
A simple way to gauge this is by asking if you are 80% sure of being able to do something. If I ask you to get a serving of protein at every meal, and you say the likelihood of this happening is around 50%, then the task is too big for now. How about protein at every breakfast and lunch? 70%? Ok, how about every breakfast? 90% you say? Great, there is your starting point. Once you have that down, can you add lunch with the same certainty?
By starting a little smaller and layer levels upon each other, you can build a solid foundation of great habits that will take you closer and closer to your goal. And one last point, be flexible. If you fail one day completely, remember that it’s only 1 day out of the year, the next day is a brand new opportunity to get back on track and refocus.
- Be realistic about how much you can change at once
- Be specific about what you want
- Finally, be more process oriented. The outcome will happen if you follow the process you have laid out.