Why New Year’s Resolutions Do Not Work – and What You Should Do Instead
December 31, 2014 5 Comments
For years, around New Year’s Eve, I would religiously write long lists of resolutions, swearing to myself I would keep them, whatever the cost. Most of the time, these resolutions were linked to my physical appearance and my weight. Sometimes, these little promises I made to myself would last a day or two; sometimes a few weeks; but when came February, everything was already forgotten.
Sounds familiar? You’re not the only one. At this time of year, millions of people decide to change their lives for the better, often by losing weight or eating healthier. It’s a first step towards a healthier lifestyle, and it’s great. But New Year’s resolutions are not the best way to succeed. In fact, I would even say they are the best way to fail. Why? Because 90% of these resolutions are not realistic, overwhelming and at the end, just plain discouraging.
To be honest, I have always enjoyed the ritual of writing these resolutions. I love making lists and it would give me a good excuse to buy new cute stationaries. It has become sort of a tradition a lot of us are attached to. The good news is, you don’t need to get rid of it completely. And your brand new notebook will still be useful (yay!)
You know how lots of websites and newspapers make these “A Year in Review” articles? Do the same with your life. Start by listing all the positive things that happened. What made you proud? What are you satisfied with? What made you happy? These points are as important as the ones you want to change. They allow you to be grateful, and to be grateful allows you to see life through a positive spectrum and at the end of the road, to be happier. It’s not only valid for Thanksgiving, it works all year round. You might be thinking that this year was so crappy for you there’s nothing to be grateful for. But when you really think about it, you can always find something to be thankful for. Even small things. This way of thinking – constantly see what’s good in your life – allows you to stay strong and motivated when life gets difficult and to be even happier when life is beautiful.
Now that you have this awesome list of great things that happened to you, let’s see what disappointed you, made you sad or fell ill at ease. Try not to see this list as “goals” (yet!) like “I want to lose 3 kilos” but think about what made you feel miserable. For instance: “I didn’t feel comfortable wearing swimming suits in front of my friends.” And remember, don’t be too hard on yourself. Now that you have your year written down, it’s tempting to draw massive goals for yourself, like finally having the body of your dreams. Unfortunately, this “big goals” method simply doesn’t work. Trust me, I used it for years, and I’ve never seen satisfying results. So what should you do? Break down your big goals into small goals. The rule is: baby steps.
Each week, take a pen and paper (or your phone!) and set a few goals you have to reach by the end of the week. Don’t be too ambitious, keep things simple. Let’s say you’ve decided to eat healthier this year. If you currently eat out most of the time, your weekly goal could be to cook a homemade meal once or twice this week. Would you like to be sportier? If you are very sedentary at the moment, don’t go to the gym five times a week overnight. You would feel discouraged too quickly. Instead, start by walking at least 30 minutes everyday. Then in a few weeks, do a weekly gym session, then two and so on.
The beauty of this method is that it fits all, no matter what your level is or what your goals are! By the end of each week, you can cross the items off your list and there’s nothing more satisfying and motivating than that. In some cases, you might want to determine monthly goals. Test and see what works best for you.
The small goals method is the one I’m using now and honestly, if someone had told me four years ago that I would have the fitness level I have today and that I would live this great healthy lifestyle, I would not have believed them. It would have be overwhelming and I’m sure I would have thought it was impossible to reach. But I made small changes in my life, step by step and here I am today, fit, healthy and happy!
I wish you all a healthy, happy and delicious year!
What keeps you motivated all year round? What are you struggling with? I would love to hear your story!