“I’ll stop eating desserts after my vacation.”
“I will start exercising from 2nd Jan”.
I will run 5kms everyday in the New Year”
But here’s the truth:
Starting fresh after losing your way is a really comforting thought to humans. As is postponing an uncomfortable change – like “I will start my morning runs as soon as work gets under control in a few weeks”.
It comforts you because you’ve negotiated with yourself not to do it immediately. It feels good because you are still promising yourself you will do it, knowing it is important for you.
Perhaps you are also trying to compensate for the ‘guilt’ of ‘going off track’ during the holidays?
Don’t worry, you are not alone. Its normal human behavior.
But, studies have shown that 80% of New Year Resolutions fail!
But Why do they fail?
To begin with, there is no commitment of IMMEDIATE ACTION – it’s in the name ‘New Year’ (not now) resolution! We humans are amazing at negotiating ourselves out of anything that we perceive as being uncomfortable.
Unrealistic expectations in the excitement of a new year.
Unrealistic = forgetting to put a ‘Real Life’ lens – e.g. “I will run 5kms every day from 1st Jan” – and then school reopens, kids need to be dropped off. Those new projects at work take up your day, who has the time to run! And so on…
All-or-Nothing approach. “If I can’t run 5kms each day, then I have failed. I don’t like to fail, so I will stop running.” Sounds familiar?
Focusing on the outcome instead of the process. Not learning the skills needed to make a change sustainable. Yes, developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is a skill that needs to be learnt and practiced.
Relying solely on Willpower and Motivation both of which is typically overestimated by the feel-good time of a new year. It eventually runs out … likely by 20th Jan. Motivation is not the same as discipline.
Lack of an Accountability Structure & an Environment that helps you stick to your resolution. Environment = people, support, guidance.
Not having the right people and support to pick you up when you are down, and at times to kick your arse.
Makes sense isn’t it?
Now consider this in your resolutions …
Expect bad days. A long term plan that expects bad days along the way is better than a perfect plan that fails in 3 weeks.
Aim for ‘Something’. You would rather run 1km than lie in bed thinking “I have no time to run 5kms today”. All-or-Nothing usually gives you Nothing.
Resolve to SMALL DOABLE actions – “I will keep my running shoes ready next to my bed every night at 8pm” instead of “I will run 5kms every day”.
The former will more likely get you out running.
Choose your Environment, the people around you, that support you and won’t judge you. Your environment is a result of choices you you have made. And that environment you create for yourself will influence the choices you will make in future.
The reality… Is having New Year Resolutions BAD?
Of course not, in fact they are great to kick-start a change that has been eluding you. But look at it as just that – a little sneak-peek of how it actually feels when you act on the change you want. And then work on making it a sustainable long term habit.
Here is a photo I don’t need permission to share, because this is me in my trousers that were comfortably fitting a few years ago!
And I haven’t done a single crash diet, nor have I done 500 crunches a day (not my favorite exercise anyway). I just learned the basics and … the skills to apply them consistently!
In health and inspiration,