The New Year can feel like a fresh start for many people as they start planning all the ways to make the next 365 days better than the last. People start making vows to go to the gym more, journal or meditate every day, make better nutritional choices, and/or read more books to name a few. Unfortunately, the statistics regarding new years resolutions can be quite abysmal. The perfect example is gym attendance. Have you ever noticed how crowded the gym gets in January, only to fizzle out come March? This is just one example but is common for most resolutions.
The purpose of this article is not to convince you against making your own new year’s resolutions, but rather to ensure you are setting yourself up for a year of improvement by having realistic goals and expectations to ensure long-term success. We’re going to dive into why most New Year's resolutions are doomed to fail and give you pointers on how to ensure you are continuously and objectively moving towards your goals all year round.
The first reason many New Year's Resolutions are doomed to fail is that they encompass an all or nothing mentality. It’s common to think that going all-in is the only way to win, but in reality, all-or-nothing thinking rarely gets you all; it usually gets you nothing.
Second, many goals begin with a jolt of energy that creates excitement around making a positive change. The problem with relying solely on this quick burst of motivation is that it’s oscillating and doesn’t last long-term. When people set a goal, oftentimes they are lacking the intention to develop an efficient plan of action that lasts longer than a few days or weeks. When the motivation dies, which it will, so too does their effort to move steadfastly towards their goals.
Lastly, if a plan of action has been created to support a specific goal, it oftentimes does not take into account the realistic ups and downs of life such as travel, illness, changing schedules, etc. This can lead to unrealistic expectations, eventually causing feelings of frustration or failure which ultimately leads to a slow decline back to old habits.
- Start slow! The biggest issue with many New Year's Resolutions and “weight-loss” programs that come with “quick-fix” promises is that they focus on changing everything at once. This is not sustainable long-term and leads to yo-yo dieting and frustrations. It is proven that when more than 3 things are changed at once, there is only a 10% chance of success. Pick one thing that will have the biggest physiological impact, in the least amount of time and psychological resistance and build slowly. As an example, let’s say that a 45-year-old female who has not worked out in 20 years and eats a standard American diet has a goal to reclaim her health and fitness this year. Instead of going all in and trying to work out 5 days/week, eat healthier, drink more water, improve her sleep quantity, and meditate every day as soon as January hits, she could make a healthier habit change each month. In January she commits to walk 30 minutes every day. Once she’s gotten good at that, in February she decides to continue walking 30 minutes and drinking 72oz filtered water every day. In March she decides to walk 30 minutes every day, drink 72oz water, and find a gym that supports her training and nutrition needs where she commits to attending at least 2x per week. The habit changes need to start with something that seems so easy that it will actually be doable long-term!
- Know your intention! As stated before, motivation does not last. Sometimes that can be refreshing to hear as many people believe that without motivation, the drive needed to reach a goal is not possible. However, it is not the amount of motivation that makes an individual successful, but rather their discipline. When motivation is low, the intention must be high. This is why having a simple, clear and concise plan that supports you and your specific goals is crucial. What is your intention during each phase of your journey? If you are unsure, it will be very difficult to continue moving steadfastly towards your goals when motivation starts to dissipate.
- Set realistic action steps! The habit changes you will need to make to reach your goals will need to be segmented and sequential; meaning that each step builds off the previous step. One goal should not have a singular action step and must be much more specific than “workout more and eat healthier.'' When determining the steps required to reach your goals, it is important to ensure they have the lowest psychological resistance with the highest physiological benefit.
- Stop focusing on outcome-based progress! Outcome-based metrics are things you have no direct control over such as losing 10 pounds or lowering blood pressure. Instead, focus on variables you can directly control such as how you spend your time, what foods you choose to eat and when you decide to go to bed each night. When you focus on habits instead of outcomes, the process becomes much more enjoyable.
- Hire an expert! Lastly, If your goals revolve around health and fitness, it is imperative to have a knowledgeable coach who can ensure that your prescription around training, nutrition, and behavioral changes outside the gym are personalized to you and where you are in your journey. Finding a professional coach who embraces the ongoing consultative process and is well trained in not only exercise, but program design, nutrition, and behavioral changes are crucial to your success.
At Central Athlete we create a personalized and holistic plan for each and every individual that takes into consideration the requirements listed above for long-term growth and success. Having an initial assessment and ongoing consultations each month ensures that the prescription ebbs and flows with the uniqueness of each individual to ensure they are continuously and objectively moving towards their goals. If you are ready to tackle 2020 in a way that’s never been done before, click the link below to schedule a free strategy session with one of our expert coaches today!