Every new year, we make resolutions — big, brash, bold life changes. But the unfortunate truth is that by the time February rolls around, few of us have actually stuck to them…
So, where’s it all going wrong? And more importantly, what can we do to fix it?
Ahh, January. The month when calendars are reset, ambitions are reassessed, and goals are made (and, more often than not, just as quickly ditched).
The numbers don’t lie — turns out, the latter half of Month Numero Uno is where our health and fitness dreams go to die.
According to U.S. News & World Report, almost 156 million people — or about 80% — will give up on their resolution this year (more than 55% of which are health-oriented). Hell, there’s even a specific day when most of the ditching takes place: January 19th.
Talk about sad.
But we swore we were gonna change this time. We even paid for an annual Planet Fitness membership! So where exactly are our goals going off the rails? And more importantly, how can we get over the commitment hump to end this year with a fully ticked-off checklist and a fresh set of healthy habits?
Good questions… but before we can get to the how, we have to understand the why.
New Year, Same Ol’ Me
If you’ve ever made a New Year’s resolution, you know that the start of January is often a harsh wake-up call to the realities of self-improvement and change.
(That’s really just a fancy way of saying, “holy sh*t, this is hard”).
Unfortunately, determining what makes them so difficult is like trying to decipher why Cats has a 20% on Rotten Tomatoes: It’s hard to isolate one factor because there’s just so damn many. Sorry, Dame Judi.
On the bright side, the start of 2020 has blessed The Hustle’s office with “reliable high-speed internet access,” which means we’ve been able to scour the vast digital wastelands to round up some of the main reasons our #goals fail.
If your resolution ticks any of the following boxes, it might be time to rethink things.
- TOO BROAD
Setting vague goals is a recipe for resolution disaster. For example, “Make a career change” could mean getting a promotion, shifting to a different job, or even starting your own side business selling festive painted gourds at the farmer’s market — point is, it’s hard to chase a gourd… er, goal, when you aren’t even sure what that goal is.
- NOT ACTIONABLE
“Lose weight” may pass the specificity test, but where’s the finish line? A smarter goal like “Lose 12 lbs by May 2020” will allow you to pinpoint exactly what you need to do to achieve it. If you can’t do that, then you’re setting yourself up for failure.
- NEGATIVE FRAMING
Here’s an idea: Stop thinking about what you couldn’t do and start thinking about what you *could*. This article from Harvard Medical School suggests that long-lasting shifts in behavior are rooted in positive thinking, while the least successful attempts at change were motivated mainly by fear or regret. (Translation: Don’t be a Negative Nathan.)
- TOO DRASTIC
Look, if it were easy to wake up on January 1st and immediately become a vegan who runs ultramarathons, meditates 5 hours each morning, and also calls their mom more often, I’d have done it already. Unfortunately, trying to shift your entire life at once is just about the least sustainable approach to take. Small, consistent behavioural shifts are where success starts — not trying to do everything at once.
- NO “WHY”
If you’re looking for the dumbest reason resolutions fail, well, look no further. It may surprise you, but there are plenty of people out there who feel obligated to make a resolution “just because”. Here’s a hint: The fastest way in the world to lose motivation is by doing something you didn’t really care about in the first place. Shocker!
Phew. If you got through all that with your resolution intact, you’re a better planner than us and we give you permission to reward yourself with a funny dog video. You earned it.
For the rest of you that are cradling your crumbling goals in your hands like a frail baby bird, fret not… we’re here to help.
Want to Nail Your New Year’s Resolutions? Here’s How:
The good news is, it’s simpler than you think. The bad news is, it’s still hard work.
To achieve your goals, you need to change. Sound straightforward? It is! And yet, year after year, countless people make resolutions without implementing any kind of plan to modify their behaviors and actually reach their dreams.
Good resolutions are just like bowling — you’ve gotta set ‘em up before you can knock ‘em down. *Cue Big Lebowski gif*
With that in mind, follow these three steps to turn your resolutions from a distant dream that’ll fade by mid-February into a tactical, actionable plan for success:
- SET SMART GOALS
What do we mean by SMART? Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Based. This approach is widely recognized as the smart (see what we did there) way to attack any goal, and forces you to ensure your resolution is both sustainable over the course of a year and something you can reasonably achieve.
- IDENTIFY “WHY,” NOT JUST “WHAT”
Anybody can say they want to pay off their credit card debt or run a faster 5K, but if you can’t identify why you want to do it, you’re setting yourself up for a swift kick in the tuchus. Having a “why” will help everything else fall into place — the motivation to keep at it, the specifics needed to accomplish it, and even the ability to visualize success and stay positive.
- REVERSE ENGINEER
Here’s a little pro tip on how to tell if your resolution makes sense: If you can look at it and work backwards from the end result to create a month-by-month plan to get there, you’re off to a good start. If not, you might wanna head back to the drawing board.
Of course, these all simply set the stage for arguably the biggest step you can take towards achieving your goals…
- FOCUS ON GRADUAL BEHAVIORAL CHANGE
66 days — that’s how long it takes to break an old habit. Yikes. As you probably guessed, change comes from consistent adherence to small shifts, not big chunks of cold-turkey quitting. Focusing on gradual behavioural change helps with your goals because it sets up (and forces you to adhere to) the kind of habits that will have you winning in the long-term… and isn’t that what it’s all about?
If that sounds like a doozy, don’t worry — we’ll break it down for you.
Change doesn’t happen overnight (unless you win the lottery). If you really want to nail your goals, you need to treat’em like building a house: Set a foundation with small behavioral changes, then slowly build from there.
Focusing on this very tactic is exactly what’s making companies like Noom so popular for goal-getters. By putting positive behaviors before the end goal, they bypass traditional pitfalls that lead to resolution failure — like lack of motivation, burnout, and plain ol’ force of habit — and instead help you build a foundation that will last all year (or decade… or even century).
If you’re one of the 55% of people who made a health resolution this year but aren’t quite sure how to get started (hey, no shame in that), give Noom a shot. They’ll guide you through how to develop and stick to the new habits that will have you looking back on 2020 wondering why you didn’t start this sooner.
Get your free Noom evaluation here.