Why Resolutions Don't Work

Mulligan!

It has been two months since 2018 kicked off and a bunch of us made our New Year’s Resolutions, as is tradition. Judging by the attendance spike and drop at the average gym, I am going to wager that most of us have already forgotten or given up on our resolutions. So, what gives? Is our attention span that short? Do we lack conviction? I propose that it is due to a lack of accountability. If you have dropped the ball, that is ok. Let’s take this as an opportunity to call a mulligan and start again. Maybe we should reexamine our method for accomplishing our resolutions.

The average resolution goes something like this: “I am going to lose ten pounds this year” or “I am going to go to the gym more often.” Then most of us drink a couple glasses of champagne and stay up late so we can start the new year off right, by sleeping in with a hangover. Awesome start. Ok, day two, we go to the gym or pick healthier options at the grocery store. Maybe we overdue this step. One day, we are sitting on the couch watching Netflix or playing on the phone, the next we try to run a 5K and give up everything we enjoy eating. In my experience, this is just setting up for failure. It’s too much of a change too fast. Is this even enjoyable?

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Seek Something Fun

Apparently, some of us really love the gym, like Clark Kent up here. But for those of us who don't get a rush off of sweating in a gym, we should look elsewhere for our exercise. If you want to stick with your resolution, you must find a way to make it enjoyable. Running may be a great way to lose weight and look good, but it is pointless if you get frustrated by March and go back to lounging on the couch. Exercise can be enjoyable if you find the right activity for your own personal tastes. Personally, I enjoy biking. I prefer to go outside and enjoy nature, but even a stationary bike can be fun if I listen to a good podcast or some upbeat music. There are plenty of other options available as well. Your local gym or YMCA should have some clubs you can join. Anyone know any good pickle ball clubs? I loved that game back in high school.

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Write it down

Write it down so that you can hold yourself accountable. Then place it somewhere you will see often as a reminder to stay motivated. It is so easy to forget about the vague goals we set for ourselves if we just say it to ourselves. Writing it down makes it real. We must look at it and think about whether we are doing what we need to do to accomplish our resolutions. Also, there is something that is just so gratifying about taking a pen to a physical piece of paper and crossing off a goal. I do this as the year goes on as some of my resolutions are simpler than others. For example, this year one goal was to set a Personal Best for steps in a day. I use an app called Pacer, which does a great job of this. The downside to using an app is it only counts the steps if you have your phone on you. A Fitbit may be better for some of you, but I am partial to the app, which is free.  

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Break it down

A lot of our goals can be vague or overwhelming at times if we think about what we must do in a year to accomplish it. I find myself either giving up or getting behind and having to scramble at the end of the year if I don’t break it down into easier to accomplish bite sized chunks. One of my goals is to lose 12 pounds this year, which could sound like a lot at face value, but if you break it down by month it seems very realistic. Each month I only need to lose 1 pound or about one quarter pound a week. Much easier to accomplish. Another goal is to wipe out a credit card debt which is around $6,000. No easy feat, especially at 14% interest. But if you break it down per month, it is about $500 a month, plus a little for interest.  Factor in the tax refund coming next month and suddenly this goal seems much more manageable, as it will probably work down to about $250 a month.

Set Reminders

Our phones have as much potential as they do pitfalls. One of my favorite abilities of the smartphone is the reminders you can set. I tend to have my phone on me throughout most of the day, so when the reminder goes off, I see it right away. One idea is to set a reminder every month of our resolution or what we must do each month. “Did you pay down your credit card?” or “How many miles did you put on your bike?” Something simple works as a gentle reminder to keep sticking with it so we can follow through with our goals.

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Reflect

On New Year’s Eve, I like to reflect on how the year went. Some years go better than others and that is simply how life works. Rather than beat myself up over any shortcomings, I focus on the positives. Some of which can be unplanned which is always a happy little surprise. The days are long but the years are short, and so often we forget all that we accomplish throughout a year. If you want a fun activity for the whole family, try keeping a jar somewhere in the house and every time something good happens or you accomplish something, write it down on a piece of paper and put it in the jar. Then at the end of the year, you can reflect on all the great things that happened. This could be solo activity too, but it helps put perspective on our year and helps to be grateful for all the good that happened.