6 Things to Follow To Stop Making Failed Resolutions in 2020
Almost half of all population make resolutions each year. Not surprisingly, the most common recommendations people make are to lose weight and go to the gym more. In fact, more than 65% of people say they plan to exercise more in the coming year.
But while many seem willing and eager to get started on a new objective, the percentage of people who are successful in achieving their resolutions is only 8%. Despite their noble intentions, most people will come short when it comes to making and staying at their goal.
The Problem with Traditional Goal Setting
The primary reason cited for failed resolutions is that people are vague in defining their specific aim, to begin with. The theory states that goals need to be both accurate and measurable to be achievable. Resolutions such as “get healthier,” “lose weight,” and “hit the gym more” are challenging to achieve as they aren’t precise enough.
But while clearly defining your goals can make you more likely to achieve them, some goals, like your typical New Year’s resolution, can have potential adverse side effects. Setting a goal feels good, and it’s admirable to want to lose weight or get healthier. So how is it possible that setting a resolution might have negative consequences?
A Harvard Business School report titled Goals Gone Wild: The Systematic Side Effects of Over-Prescribing Goal Setting. The paper cites several adverse side effects such as a rise in unethical behaviour; distorted risk preference; corrosion of organizational culture; and reduced intrinsic motivation.
I’ve myself been victim to countless fad diets, extreme exercise programs, and detox cleanses that seem to “work” in the short run. While many people indeed do achieve short-term success and a brief before-and-after photo moment, most people gain the weight back and then some.
The reality is that short-term diets don’t work. As soon as the gimmick wears off, the weight comes back. Furthermore, the yo-yo effect of such a short focus can have emotional and physiological repercussions,
How to Avoid More Failed Resolutions
Most would agree that while there are downsides to too much focus on the short-term, goals by their inherent nature are good things. And whether you are a New Year’s resolution person or not, it’s natural to look at the beginning of the year as an appropriate time for assessing change.
So before you set your next goal, here are six pieces of advice to consider when it comes to getting it right and making failed resolutions a thing of the past.
1. Establish the ‘Why First’
The higher the stakes, the more likely you will persevere when you hit the inevitable stumbling blocks. Is your “why” to get more years with your loved ones?
Instead of only starting the year by saying, “I want to lose 20 pounds,” or, “I want to achieve X% body fat,” begin instead with the why. Ask yourself why you want to lose 20 pounds (or why you’ve gained the weight in the first place).
Yet another way to find your “why” is to ask yourself, “What happens if I am not successful in reaching my goal?” That answer helps you clearly establish what it is you’re fighting for.
2. Pick a Goal You Can Measure
The problem with pounds or kilos on the scale is that they don’t tell the whole story and aren’t necessarily indicative of health, wellness, or fitness. In fact, it is possible to improve your body composition and health-related metrics without a significant change in body weight. Therefore, picking a different measurement with reliable and relatable data is essential.
3. Pick a New Craft That Brings You Joy
One of the most significant predictors of a successful relationship is shared joy. Human beings stick with things that bring them genuine satisfaction, delight, and happiness. They leave people and situations that do not.
That said, this does not mean you should simply seek out fun things. In this context, the word fun is not synonymous with joy. Fun means Disneyland for some and partying with friends for others. Conversely, happiness is what an athlete experiences when he or she gives a peak performance. Joy is what a dancer feels when she expresses her art and grace. Joy is the satisfaction of crossing the finish line after months and years of sweat equity.
4. Stop “Dieting” with Fitness
It’s not practical or feasible to just avoid sugar for the rest of your life or never eat dessert again. It’s not maintainable to stay on a juice fast or cleanse forever, nor is it doable to go to the gym twice a day every day for the rest of your life.
Yet this is precisely the approach many take to their New Year’s resolution, and this is the crux of the reason short-term diets don’t work. Instead of such a drastic approach, start with one small step you can take today — like walking or biking to work or substituting fruits and quality protein for your typical sugar-loaded afternoon snack
5. Get Some Sleep
David Wagner, a sleep expert, says, “When you’re tired, you lack the self-control to eat healthily and the focus to be productive.” But when you are fully rested, you are more likely to have the energy to exercise and a better likelihood to make better food choices.
Try going to bed at the same time every night and mindfulness practice is also a good rest and sleep compliment.
6. Establish Your “Then What?”
Even after you define your why, establish a clearly defined goal, and meet your objective, your work is not complete. After you cross that marathon finish line or lose the twenty pounds, your job isn’t finished. In fact, it’s just beginning. The hard truth is that living at your goal takes more work than reaching it in the first place.
One of the critical mistakes people make in goal setting is forgetting the “then what.” One of the inherent problems with most goals is that they are predicated on an endpoint. But in reality, there is no “when I get there” — just the willingness and ability to keep fighting and resolving.
Goals should mirror life in that they should be more like a cycle. Running a marathon could be followed by a “then what” such as competing in a triathlon. Your then what plan is essentially a long-term plan for permanence and resiliency amid the ups, downs, and changes of life.
Make a New Kind of Resolution This Year
The desire for change and the process of setting clearly defined objectives is something we all should aspire to. But before embarking on a wellness crusade, there are downsides to consider, like the allure of the quick fix and the immense cultural pressure to seek convenient answers.
Avoiding such pitfalls takes doing your due diligence in establishing your what, why, and how. The process of reaching goals and sustaining that success takes the willingness to be both reflective and committed. More than anything, real and lasting change takes the courage to face yourself.