Friday, January 1st, begins what many of us gym regulars refer to as the “flood of the resolutionists” — the time when everyone who resolved to get in shape in the new year starts enthusiastically going to the gym. Like most people who make New Year’s resolutions, after a few weeks, their motivation fades and they slowly thin out.
According to the Journal of Clinical Psychology, 50% of Americans will make New Year’s resolutions with the top resolutions being to lose weight, exercise more, stop smoking, and to fix finances. Statistics also say most folks will give up within six months; I’d argue it is more like six weeks.
There are a number of reasons that most New Year’s resolutions fail:
- January 1 is an arbitrary date — When someone truly decides to make a change in their life, they typically want it to start immediately…not tomorrow and not on a certain date. And when you set a start date in the future, you set yourself up for last supper mentality, aka splurging knowing you are going to rein things in soon. If you know you’re going to start dieting on January 1st, that last week of December can get pretty ugly!
- Unrealistic goals — People get really aggressive with New Year’s resolutions. You haven’t stepped foot in a gym all year, but now you’re committing to go every day. That is just setting yourself up for failure.
- Nothing else changes — You don’t adjust your environment, cues or habits, but expect sheer willpower to carry you through. Willpower alone is not enough to create change.
So with these statistics and hurdles, should you even bother making New Year’s resolutions? Yes! Folks who make resolutions are 10 times more likely to change their behavior than someone who doesn’t; just the act of putting a goal out there makes you more likely to succeed. Here are some tips for making your resolution stick:
- Set small mini, regular goals — Instead of making grandiose unrealistic goals like running a marathon if you haven’t run a mile in years, commit to just putting on your running shoes every morning. Those tiny little goals build up to larger goals.
- Do something daily — last year, I put doing a headstand (without the wall) on my vision board. I started practicing daily, even after I got it. Getting into a new, positive daily habit will keep your goal front of mind.
- Focus on little wins — Try not to be all or nothing. This is one reason January 1stis such a tough start date. Many of us are still traveling and with family, so we fail on the 1stor 2nd…and then give up. So focus on a small win from each day. Skipped the bread basket, when I went out to lunch with Grandma Suzie? Win!
- Create a vision board and share it — I’ve done this for the past few years and it makes a big difference for me. First, it reminds me of the goals I set out in January — it is easy to forget about them after a few months. I also put a photo of my vision board on Facebook and had immediate accountability. My yoga teacher knew I wanted to do a handstand and my boss knew I wanted to be more social at work.
- Be determined, not wishy washy — Take a ‘Must’ mindset, versus ‘Should.’ What must you do this year to improve your life? Check out this great post about the should mindset: http://www.inc.com/bill-carmody/don-t-should-all-over-yourself-3-steps-to-create-lasting-change.html
- Try an app for accountability — There are so many great apps out there that will help with tracking and accountability. For weight loss, check out MyFitnessPal. Evernote is great for organization. meand Mint are two more that I’ve heard are super helpful.
Or, just skip resolutions altogether. Instead of making specific resolutions, look for a theme or word that encompasses what you want the new year to be about and then focus on behaviors that support that theme. Health, reinvention, balance, risk, serve…what is your word?