New Year Resolutions: aka New Year Delusions

Why the traditional New Year Resolution doesn't work... and how to do things differently to guarantee success...




You know the drill...


1) Panic before summer - follow the #1 trending diet of that year, for a few weeks...

2) Realise you left it too late...Enjoy your summer holiday... tell yourself you'll get into better shape next year...

3) Summer is over... back to normal...

4) Autumn/Winter - "It's Christmas"... aka eat & drink everything in sight... gain weight...

5) "New Year... New Me"

6) Do nothing...

7) Repeat... EVERY YEAR!



We know that the majority of people will not achieve their New Year resolution...


In fact, you're in the minority if you're still trying by the end of January.


Obviously, having a goal that you want to achieve is a positive thing...


But of course... saying you're going to do something, and actually doing it are completely different things.


(Example: Buying a gym membership doesn't do anything unless you actually turn up on a regular basis - and more than half of gym members don't!)




Wishful Thinking


A New Year Resolution is no more than a wish...


Something that you have always wanted... but always failed to achieve.


And the problem with having a wish... is that it means absolutely nothing...


Because you still don't have a plan.


Example: Simply stating that you want to "lose weight" is a (vague) wish. It's a rough description, of the idea that you have in your head...


It's a bit like saying you want to be rich...


Of course you do!


But how are you going to do it?




Long-Term Habits = Long-Term Solution


Let's be honest...


Why do you need a New Year Resolution in the first place?


Most likely, because you're not happy with your current situation...


And it's unlikely that your current situation occured overnight!


Excess body fat, poor fitness, a lack of muscle mass/tone are all symptoms of long-term, negative choices.


Waking up on January 1st and simply reversing those behaviours is not going to be straightforward... there will be a number of deeply ingrained reasons for your current lifestyle.


So firstly, be realistic and honest about your expectations...


Based on your history and your current circumstances, what do you honestly believe you can achieve? (Be optimistic, but not unrealistic).


The long-term aim should be to progress rather than achieve perfection immediately.


Example: If you have a sweet tooth, restricting the times of the day/week that you eat sugar may be a more appropriate target. Rather than aiming to suddenly eliminate all sugar overnight.




Social Influence


A goal/target will only inspire you to take consistent action (requiring effort) if it truly means something to you.


If your target is merely about conforming to what other people want/expect (or what you think they want) then you are going to lose motivation VERY early in the process.


Example: Obviously, smoking is a negative habit. It's a good idea to try to quit...


But...


If you're only setting this as your New Year Resolution because of what everybody else thinks... you WILL fail.


If, on the other hand you are quitting because YOU are concerned about your own health... then you're in a better place to succeed... you have a powerful, personal reason behind your goal. When you struggle, this might just be the thing that makes the difference.




A New Year Plan - Process vs Outcome


Again, until you actually take action, a New Year Resolution is nothing but a wish.


And the problem most people will have, is that their target is too vague...


"I want to be healthier"


"I'm going to drink less"


"I'm going to be more organised"


Get specific... define which aspects of your health needs to be improved, how much you are going to drink every week/month, what you are actually going to do to organise your life.


Then... figure out the necessary steps. These steps are your PROCESS GOALS... and these should be your actual goal (rather than the final outcome)...

 

If you have an outcome goal, but no process goals... you can't progress.


If you have process goals, your outcome goal will look after itself!


 

Take weight loss as an example...


"I want to lose 5kg of weight"


That seems perfectly fair.


But... you can't flick a switch that takes away that precise amount of weight...


What you can do, is identify the (realistic) changes that you can make to your life, that will start to move you in that direction...



"Lose 5kg of weight:


= an outcome goal (you are not directly in control... you can't physically remove 5kg of fat from your body).



"Join the gym/hire a Personal Trainer, ask for help with your diet, use an app to track your calories":


= PROCESS GOALS (You are directly in control of these. You either do them, or you don't. If you do, weight loss is a side-effect of successfully implementing your process).




Reward


Unfortunately "New Year Resolution" seems to be a euphemism for sacrifice...


"Give up 'x'"


"Stop doing 'y'".


Even if your goal does depend on some form of sacrifice... put some sort of reward system in place.


Apart form having a personal, intrinsic reason to succeed, most people respond well to a exterior prize.


This can be anything... but just make sure it is significant enough to motivate you to some extent (and be strict... there's no point using this strategy, if you're just going to treat yourself to your reward regardless of whether you succeed or not!).


Remember, the point of your resolution now, is incremental progress via process goals.


So we are rewarding the process, not the outcome.


Example: if your process goals are to exercise for 3 hours per week, and track your calorie intake...


Reward yourself every 2 weeks for adhering to the above. You have followed your plan, there is no more you could have done. If the results are not what you were hoping for, that is not your fault. Just adjust the plan slightly for the next 2 weeks.




6 Steps To Resolution Success


1) Set a clear & realistic target (this is not your goal)


2) Identify what you need to do to achieve that target (these processes are your goal)


3) Calculate a reasonable timetable, and break up into smaller, more manageable intervals (approx 2 weeks)


4) Take consistent action, focussing on maintaining the process, not the end result.


5) Reward yourself as you follow your plan, at regular pre-determined intervals, according to your timetable.


6) Adjust the plan as necessary. DO NOT panic and give up if/when you feel progress is slower than expected. Accept that significant changes take time, and that progress (especially when it comes to physical fitness) is not linear.