It’s that time of the year again – the time that everyone makes New Year’s resolutions. The time that everyone sets goals for themselves in the upcoming year to make positive changes.
We know the story too well, though – you make the resolutions, you last a few weeks, and you fizzle out soon after you started.
Why are New Year’s resolutions so hard to keep up with? I promise, it’s not because you’re lazy, or a failure, or anything else you may have thought about yourself over the past several years. It’s just because you’re human.
I’ve been one of those people in the past who has made resolutions that didn’t last – to drink more water, to exercise more, to eat better, etc., etc. But now that I know more about what it really looks like to build wellness in your life, I wanted to share my process with you, so that you can hopefully be more successful this year in the resolutions you make.
Why New Year’s Resolutions (Usually) Don’t Work
There are a number of reasons people don’t succeed with their resolutions. Here are just a few, from my experience:
- We set goals based on unattainable ideals. In this day and age especially, we are flooded daily through social media, advertising, and other channels with portrayals of “idealized” life. Whether it’s the “ideal” body, diet, group of friends, social life, romantic life, family life, or any aspect of life, it easy to believe there’s a set standard for the perfect life. But the truth is, what you see on Instagram or on TV is an incomplete picture that doesn’t show the “downs” of life. So setting a goal to achieve an “ideal” lifestyle is basically setting a goal to achieve something that doesn’t exist – which is setting you up for failure and frustration.
- We set goals based on comparison. We have more access now than ever into other people’s lives through social media – we can even have insight into the lives of people we don’t know personally. This makes it easier than ever to compare ourselves to others. As a result, it’s easy to set goals based on what works for someone else, instead of what works for us. But no one person is the same, so no one lifestyle, exercise routine, or diet is going to work for everyone. Just because it works for someone else doesn’t mean it’s going to work for you.
- We set goals but forget to outline the process. It’s easy to feel motivated at first when you set your goals – who wouldn’t be excited about finding happiness in their career”, losing 50 pounds, or getting better at playing the guitar (for example). The problem is, most people stop there – they forget to figure out the small steps that need to be taken to actually get to that goal. Losing 50 pounds involves more steps than just going to the gym. You have to develop daily habits that will cultivate a lifestyle that will get you to your weight loss goal and help you keep the weight off. But when you don’t have those steps outlined, it’s easy to become overwhelmed.
- We set goals without knowing our motivations. – Wanting to lose weight or change your exercise routine is a great goal, but when you don’t know why you’re working towards it, you’ll fizzle out pretty quickly. It’s important to understand why you want what you want – otherwise, you can quickly lose your sense of purpose and end up back where you started.
- We lack a support system. Human beings are wired for connection, and connection is especially important when you are trying to achieve something. When you set a goal for yourself but don’t surround yourself with people who will encourage you through the ups and downs of your journey, it’s likely you’ll end up feeling like the whole endeavor is too hard and just not worth it.
How To Set New Year’s Resolutions Properly
New Year’s Resolutions don’t have to be so difficult to keep up with. Here’s the process that I follow to set myself up for success in my resolutions.
- Spend time understanding your motivations. It’s so important to really take the time to understand why you are setting your resolution in the first place. Is it for your family? Your spouse? To improve your self-esteem? Whatever it is, understanding your motivation will help you keep moving towards your goal when the going gets tough.
- Outline smaller steps that will get you to your overall goal. Not only will this make your goal seem more attainable, it will give you a better understanding of how to get there. Creating an outline of small, easy steps will help you feel less overwhelmed by your goals and more in control.
- Celebrate your successes – even the small ones. Any level of transition is hard to adjust to, so there will likely be times that you feel like you’ve taken a step backwards. To keep yourself from getting hung up on what you’re not doing well, it’s important to acknowledge and celebrate every little step that you succeed in taking towards your goal.
- Trust your instincts to know what’s best for you. There are plenty of people with opinions, but nobody knows your body and your lifestyle better than you. So trust your instincts if you think something will work great for you, or if you think something won’t work. And most importantly, don’t compare your journey to others – you are a unique individual and will have a unique journey.
- Find your “tribe”. Surrounding yourself with the right people is key to your success. Find people who will encourage you when you’re down, celebrate your success, listen to you when you need to talk, and remind you of your motivations. Those are the people who will help you get where you want to go.
Keeping your New Year’s Resolutions really can happen, as long as you have the right tools! Sometimes, one of the best tools can be having someone like a Health Coach help you out. If you’re interested in chatting about your goals for 2018, you can contact me!