A brand spanking New Year is around the corner. Can you smell it? The smell of New Years Resolutions. Busy Gyms, Busy trails, Full trash-cans of cookies and potatoes and everything else that goes with “New Year, New Me”.
There are usually two camps when it comes to resolutions.
Camp one are die hard resolution people that love them, thrive on them and think they’re the bees knees.
Camp two are resolution haters – they think they’re useless, overdone and doomed to fail.
The truth is, both camps are correct.
There’s a TON of research on behaviors and goal setting – especially when it comes to resolutions. As an online health coach for 4+ years, not only do I know the science, but I have seen it all when it comes to goals, goal setting and goal failure.
Now – we all know theres usually a fall off period when it comes to resolutions and goals, but do you know WHY? Like truly why people fail at their goals. It’s not just because “it’s too hard” or “life got in the way”.
Goals usually fail due to a few different reasons. Let’s dive in so that you can be prepared if you’re a resolutioner and want to set SMARTER goals this year that you can actually stick to.
1. Too Much At Once: “New Year, New Me” usually equates to changing every single thing about yourself and your habits. You go in with the mindset that this year is going to be different and you’re going to stick to these changes and quit everything cold turkey. Sure, you may do well for a few days, maybe even a few weeks. But you’re going to hit a point where you break. It’s usually around valentines day.
Solution: Change ONE thing. Don’t go all pedal to the metal and change everything. You didn’t form all of your current habits overnight. You’re not going to change them overnight either. So just pick ONE thing and do that for a solid 2 weeks, then build on that. Get that stable and consistent. Then build again. Think building blocks. You need a strong base. And a strong base is built with solid walls and enough time for the cement to cure.
2. Not picking realistic goals: So, you’ve never ran in your life – so of course you’re going to pick your new years resolution goal to run an ultra marathon that includes obstacles – right?!
Horribly, horribly wrong. Sure – some people could do this. The majority will not. That doesn’t make you weak, or bad, or any of the other negative things you say to yourself. It just makes you human.
Solution: Pick a goal that’s smaller. If you really want to get running – pick a 5k. But give yourself some time to work up to it. Don’t expect to do it in the first month. Especially if you’ve not even worked out in a while. Pick a 5k for the spring or even summer to give yourself ample time to work up to it. And for the love of all that is holy – please do some strength training, specifically your glutes and core. You’ll thank me later.
3. Too Rigid of Goals or Plans: Okay, so you’ve been on a sugar binge for over a month now because of all all the holidays and shindigs and treats thrown your way. But you can nip it in the bud on January 1st and cut it out cold turkey right?!
More than likely though – no.
That hangry hangry sugar hulk will rear it’s ugly head sooner rather than later.
Sure, getting all the sugar out of the house will help. But it’s not sustainable – especially if you have a partner or kids.
Solution: Don’t cut every thing out at once. Just start with decreasing. Instead of having it be a whole smorgasbord – portion things out. Have ice-cream every other day. Or have a few pieces of those individually wrapped dove chocolates a day. When you cut cold turkey – you’re more likely to crave those things. It’s like the big red button you’ve been told not to press. All you want to do is press it. So press the button – but gentle and not all day long.
4. Jumping into working out 7 days a week: It’s time to sweat out all the sugar demons from the last few months and get your butt in gear. Even though you haven’t worked out since 2019. You can absolutely get to the gym 5 days a week and do 2 long walks a week on top of working your full time job, socializing with friends, spending time with your partner, wrangling kids… oh yea – your time isn’t infinite and you’ll probably crack 3 days in.
Solution: Start SMALL. Pick 2 days a week – don’t worry about what you’re doing. Just pick 2 days a week, the 2 days that you can dedicate 20 or 30 minutes to. And put it in your planner or phone calendar to remind yourself and make a date with yourself – even better if you make a date with a friend.
Then on that day – ask yourself “what kind of movement do I need today?” Is it some strength training? Is it a cardio workout? Is it a long walk with a friend? A zumba class?
Sometimes we get so caught up on what “we should be doing” because of whatever fitness model you’re following on Instagram. Let go of “I should do X” – what you should do, is what makes YOU happy. Whatever doesn’t make working out feel like a chore. Moving your body should be fun. And there are SO many ways to do it. Find what resonates with YOU.
And once you’ve gotten those 2 days a week pretty solidified – look at your schedule and see what next 30 minute slot you can fit into your week. And then maybe work up to 45 minutes or 60. But like before – BUILD the blocks. Don’t try to jump right to the peak.
5. Focusing on taking away vs. adding: “chocolate makes you fat, cut it out” – “Bread makes you round – leave it alone” – “Stop watching so much TV”
The list goes on and on and on about things to take out of your life. And sure – there are things we could live without that would bring us some peace – i’m looking at you hours of social media. But most of the time – it’s not sustainable to just take and take and take. There has to be some balance.
Solution: I had a client tell me this quote she heard and really resonated with her – “eat what you want, add what you need”. I wish I could remember who she said, said this – because I would give them the biggest high five. We focus so much on taking away. On the negatives of things. Subtracting usually equates negative emotions. Especially when it comes to our habits around nutrition, diets and exercise. So don’t take anything away on the 1st. Focus on ADDING – and adding small. Adding a veggie to 1 meal a day. Adding 1 glass of water daily. A 20 minute minute walk. Ect. Focus on the adding – get adjusted to that – and then like with everything else. Build from there. And maybe at that point it means some subtraction. And that’s okay. But focus on addition first.
This wasn’t an exhaustive list. I could quite literally write an entire novel on goals, goal setting and how to build them sustainably – and who knows, maybe one day I will. But for now – this blog will have to do.
Moral of the story – add things slowly and build a strong base and then add sustainable habits from there. And if you need a little guidance, hire a coach. There are plenty of great coaches you can work with (myself included) to help you get to your goals in a sustainable manner. And often – we even have some free content to get you started. Like these blogs:
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