Why Our New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Work (And What to Do About It!)
Ah, it is that time of year again….the time when everyone starts talking about New Year’s resolutions. We start hearing about all of the self-improvement people are going to work on and how they are going to have a much healthier life. And then we fast forward to February and it’s as if those ideas never existed! Why is this???
TOO HIGH STANDARDS
Well for starters, most of us set the bar WAY too high! So, we have these incredibly lofty goals that we start attacking on January 1st, but they are so massive or complex that we quickly burn ourselves out. Let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to meal prep every week, follow your meal plan to the letter every day, work out twice every day and never go out to eat. By the 3rd week of January, you are already exhausted and want nothing more than to spend a day away from the gym and order in massive amounts of food. You simply set the bar too high so you couldn’t keep up with the pace!
REMEDY: Make sure your goals are moderate enough that you can keep them going all year round. Watch out for language that is too extreme or doesn’t allow for any flexibility.
ALL OR NOTHING THINKING
A lot of our New Year’s resolutions set us up to think in black and white terms where we are either a success or a failure and they don’t allow for any room in the gray. This means, as soon as we have the tiniest deviation, we feel like we’ve failed and there is no point in continuing. For example, “I’m going to work out every single day this year” is a goal that sets us up for failure. As soon as we miss a day, we’ve failed to achieve our goals and believe there is no point in continuing.
REMEDY: Make sure your goals don’t set you up for failure. Look for words like ‘always’ and ‘never’ and replace them with words that allow for more moderation. For example, “I’m going to work out most days of the week” is much more achievable than “I’m going to work out every day.”
LACK OF CLARITY
In addition, we are not always clear with ourselves on what we are trying to achieve so that lack of clarity leaves us unsure if we are achieving our goals. Some people set goals about eating better or exercising more, but what does this really mean? How do you know if you’ve achieved it? For example, “I’m going to eat healthier this year” is a very vague goals and it can leave you questioning if you’ve actually done what you want to do.
REMEDY: Ensure there is clarity in your goals by using specific language that allows for an objective determination of when a goal has been met. “I’m going to eat 3 servings of vegetables every day” is a much easier goal to track then “I’m going to eat healthier.”
LACK OF SUPPORT
Everything seems to be more challenging alone and New Year’s resolutions are no exception. Again, we make these lofty goals, and we don’t tie anyone else into it to create accountability and build it a support system. This creates a situation where it is all too easy to back off or completely thwart our efforts.
REMEDY: Talk with friends and family who may have similar aspirations and choose someone to buddy up with as an accountability partner. Exercise together, share recipes, talk about problems with each other to reduce stress, or just cheer one another along.
LACK OF ACKNOWLEDGEMENT
In a perfect world, just getting healthier would be more than enough motivation to spur us all on towards a healthier new you in the new year. In reality, the truth is that all human beings are motivated by positive reinforcement, and we often forget to tie that into our resolutions. Instead, we feel we should just keep humming along at the same pace without building in any acknowledgement. Spoiler alert: this rarely works long term.
REMEDY: Think of some healthy rewards you can give yourself as you make strides towards a healthier lifestyle. Try new workout wear, dinner at a special (and nutritious!) restaurant, or a relaxing massage. And build these in throughout your journey.
Now that you know what’s standing in your way, create some healthy and achievable resolutions for yourself and get out there and make 2022 your healthiest year yet!