I’m not a resolution-hater. New Years resolutions tend to get badmouthed. Why? What’s so wrong with making plans to improve yourself and your life? I understand that most of the hate comes from the resultant disappointment of failed follow-through. We quietly resign our plans made, based on the sincerest of commitments hastily blurted-out after several strong gin-and-tonics or the like. It can be a bit embarrassing to admit defeat just weeks into our self-inflicted resolve.
Why Do New Years Resolutions Fail?
Why do New Years resolutions often fail? Most people don’t blindly declare significant, life-changing resolutions that come to them without any forethought. I cannot think of one time that I had an epiphany-derived New Years resolution. In fact many of the New Years resolutions that I have made were based on topics that I ruminated on for some time. Here’s a common example: quitting smoking. I can recall the telling myself repeatedly throughout the year, “I need to quit smoking.” Once New Years approached, this though would translate into a resolution (e.g. – I’m quitting smoking in 2015. I’m quitting smoking in 2016. I’m quitting…) made and broken year-after-year. Why do these promises we make ourselves fail to stick? Here are some reasons:
- Lack of reasonable planning and consideration.
- Attempting to make too big of a change, too quickly.
- Your goal (or success) is not clearly defined.
We tend to base our goal solely at the desired end-result. If you are overweight and want to lose 50 pounds, you may resolve to lose 50 pounds in 2017. Great. How are you going to get there? You’ve known you’ve had to lose those 50 pounds for months. Why haven’t you done so already? Wasn’t your last New Years resolution to lose 30 pounds?
There’s also a cathartic element to the whole New Years resolution shtick; declaring and sharing our intended goals to ourselves and those we love is a way of safely acknowledging our shortcomings. It’s also very easy to make resolutions when the alcohol is flowing and we’re feeling good.
The Successful New Years Resolution
What makes a New Years resolution realistic, attainable? Let’s use the weight-loss example from above to illustrate how to formulate an improved resolution. Your resolution statement should always include the following:
- Specific dates or timelines and a defined end date (e.g. – My resolution will officially begin on 1/9/2017. I have until 12/31/2017 to complete my resolution.
- Clearly defined, specific steps or requirements (e.g. – I will limit my carbohydrate intake to 100 grams per day.)
- Defined resolution goal or success (e.g. – I weight 220 pounds right now, I will know I have succeeded when my weight 170 pounds prior to 12/31/2017.
So, if we put it all together, the weight loss resolution would sound similar to this:
Beginning 1/9/2017, I resolve to lose 50 pounds by 12/31/2017. I will do the following to reach my goal:
- limit my carbohydrate intake (< 100 grams per day)
- exercise for 30 minutes (5 days per week)
- no more snacking at night on weekdays.
- use the steps at work instead of the elevator
Losing 50 pounds may sound like an impossible or difficult thing to do, but the four associated sub-steps all seem manageable. There isn’t one step in the resolution that should be overwhelming. Even if you love pizza and dinner rolls, these realistic steps are not declaring either off limits; you will need to moderate your intake. Your resolutions steps to success must be realistic.
The entire resolution should be written down. It may seem like a formality, but writing down your resolution gives you a tangible item, something you can review and refer to periodically. Another key step in successfully achieving your New Years resolution goal -be sure to regularly monitor your progress. Don’t lose sight of your goal and the associated steps that will get you to success.
2017 New Years Resolutions
Here are a few of my resolutions for 2017:
- Meditation – Beginning 1/1/2017, I will meditate for a minimum of 15 minutes each day. To make the time for meditation, I will schedule the next seven days of 15 minute daily sessions on my calendar each Sunday evening. By 12/31/2017, I will have had a minimum of 365 daily mediation sessions.
- Health – Beginning 1/2/2017, I will take ongoing actions to improve my overall health. By 12/31/2017, my health will be measurably improved (better BMI, improved blood test scores). These are the steps I will take to attain this goal:
- Take a daily cinnamon supplement each morning.
- Drink a glass of water and 1 oz of apple cider vinegar with dinner daily.
- Exercise a minimum of 30 minutes – treadmill and/or weights (6 days per week)
- Cut out majority of carbohydrate intake. Limit intake to complex carbohydrates and less than 75 grams per day (most days)
- Wealth – Beginning January 4th, I will reduce my spending and increase my savings to save $10k by December 31st. These are the steps I will take to attain this goal:
- I will establish the habit of reviewing my finances daily using Mint.
- I will review all of my major ongoing bills and take steps to reduce them by a minimum of 20%.
- I will leverage sales and promotions for all items a purchase.
- I will setup regular, ongoing automatic deposits to a separate savings account.
More to come on my New Years resolutions… Have a healthy and successful year!