It's that time of year again, and you may be thinking about how you want to level up in your life. Though New Year's resolutions can be a useful starting point for making lasting change, unfortunately, for many who set them, they often fall way short of the intended outcome.
Every regular gym-goer seems to notice the yearly surge in new members in January, but come February, they know most of these would have dropped off. The reality is, well-intentioned resolutions often fail. Don't let yourself be in the majority. No matter what is happening around you, you can take steps to make sure your goals aren't left as simply dreams!
1. Don't build your goals based on fantasies:
Every year, millions of people make new years resolutions based on lofty fantasies that they consciously or unconsciously think will magically happen. Are you one of them?
The most common New Year’s resolutions:
Do more exercise
Eat more healthily
Save some money
Studies have shown that over 80% of New Year's resolutions never come to fruition. Depressing, isn't it?. Should you not make any resolutions at all? No! The new year can be a wonderful time of 'rebirth' and an exciting way to kickstart a fresh outlook on life.
Take inventory of the resolutions you're setting. Use the 'SMART' approach: Is it specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely? The more honest you can be here, the better it will be for your overall results.
REALITY > FANTASY:
Do you have a fantasy that your goal will be full of everything positive, and there won't be any drawbacks to it? If so, take a step back and look at it from a balanced approach. No matter how exciting a dream is, there are always factors you need to consider when chasing them. By being aware of the potential negatives, you'll have a way to stay on course when the going gets tough!
2. Make sure your goal is aligned with what you truly value:
If it's not an actual value of yours, then you simply won't do it! What is considered a 'value'? Here, we are talking about what's most important in your life. It might be your children, your work, friends, or it might indeed be your fitness! Whatever it is, honour it.
Take a good hard look at the goals you are establishing. Are you setting them because you truly want them or because you're looking at what someone else is achieving, or you're acting on what you think you 'should' be doing?
We've all been victims of the 'diet starts Monday' mentality. The truth is, you wouldn't be stuck in it if you genuinely valued starting that new diet or <insert new habit here>. You would simply show up and do the work. This doesn't mean you are flawed or lazy. It just means that you have other priorities that you are valuing more. It isn't right or wrong, it just is.
The key to making sure you actually stick to your New Year's resolutions is to find something you can't wait to get started on. That way, you don't even need to feel compelled to wait until the New Year.
How do you know if your goal is something you truly value?
You have no fantasy about how it'll look at the end - you're willing to embrace all the pain and pleasure that comes along with achieving that goal, and you are objective and balanced in taking steps towards it. For example, if your goal is really to lose weight, you embrace the fact that it'll be hard sometimes - you have to eat less so you may feel hungry and irritable, you may have to get up extra early to make it to the gym, you may have to spend more time preparing your food now. If you're looking to get next-level lean, you know that it may impact your social life, your energy levels and even sex drive. Having goals you value means you are willing to take all the positives and negatives on board.
If you're feeling stuck about value-driven goals and how to link goals with values, check out this article.
3. Inch by inch, it's a cinch:
Another reason why so many well-intentioned new year's resolutions fail is that people often bite off more than they can chew! Have you ever set a ridiculously colossal goal, and you had no idea to achieve it? Though aiming high is great, setting giant goals and expecting yourself to reach them yesterday is a sure way to feel overwhelmed and eventually uninspired.
Everybody wants the 'get rich quick' version of health and fitness, which is why so many fall prey to fad diet plans, crash dieting, ego lifting, over-exercising and so on. We're driven by the 'more is better' mentality, which often comes back to bite us. We stress about losing holiday weight, so we decide to slash calories and starve ourselves. We get excited when we sign up to that hot new gym in January, punishing ourselves every day with strenuous exercise until we injure ourselves or 'fall off the bandwagon'.
We vow to quit caffeine, alcohol and smoking all at once, and painfully watch ourselves fall back into bad habits.
Instead of trying to force yourself to get there ASAP, take a few deep breaths, and project your mind towards the end of 2022. How would you love the year to pan out? Do you want to charge in and then run out of steam by March? Or do you want to keep progressing month on month, without the stress and anxiety?
Consider these questions:
Be specific. Don’t just say ‘I’ll go to the gym more’. Say something like, ‘this week, I am going to the gym 3 times - Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 5.30 PM’. Of course, you don’t have to be so rigid in case things do change, but keep in mind your commitment.
Don't let another year go by with vague resolutions that you know will probably be forgotten about by February. Take the momentum of the new year and build a strategy that will have you feeling your most confident self yet!