How To Make Your New Year's Resolution ACTUALLY Stick
Hey Derek here and it's almost New Year's!
That time of year where some of us get super motivated to turn over a new leaf while the rest of us complain about the inevitable lack of commitment of the January resolutioners.
As much as I personally don’t like stereotypical New Year’s resolutions - those which tend to fill the gyms in January only to be abandoned less than a month later - I do think that New Years’ offers a great opportunity for a “fresh start” that we can take advantage of if we do it right.
Please keep in mind that all information in this post is educational in nature and is not a substitute for professional advice from a coach or medical professional.
In Gretchen Rubin's book Better Than Before, (one of my favourites, by the way), she talks about the strategy of using fresh starts or “clean slates” as she calls them as an opportunity for beginning new habits because of the chance they provide to break out of our normal routine.
As long as you plan for the inevitable loss of motivation that is going to happen a couple of weeks after New Years, you can use the clean slate provided by the New Year as a launching pad for positive habits.
So what does it take to take your resolution beyond that loss of motivation?
I’ve noticed 4 key factors.
- Finding the deeper "Why" behind your goal
- Setting realistic expectations of difficulty & struggles
- Finding something you enjoy enough to keep doing it
- Setting up a Good Accountability and Support System
These 4 are the basis of how we have created the coaching, training and bootcamp programs that we now offer.
There has been a ton written on goal setting, but it seems most people still are not able to achieve their goals. Why is this?
For my money, I think it comes down to not enough focus on the fundamentals.
As much as fancy new techniques make headlines and start trends, it’s really the fundamentals that are the key for succeeding with any anything.
When it comes to goal setting, these fundamentals are relevance and setting realistic expectations.
1. Finding the Deeper "Why" Behind Your Resolution
Making a goal relevant comes down to making sure your goal actually matters to you.
You want to lose 30lbs? Why?
What is it that you think losing 30lbs is really going to do for you?
What are you really after?
Is it more confidence? The sense of accomplishment? Being attractive to your spouse or prospective dates?
Maybe it’s about recreational sports performance or keeping up with your kids.
Whatever it is, figure out what is really driving your motivation to lose weight and make THAT the centre of your goal.
A highly specific goal is useless if it doesn’t have emotional relevance.
2. Setting Realistic Expectations of Difficulty and Struggle
Next, you must make sure that your expectations of your journey are realistic.
It will get tough at some point in your journey. Be prepared for that. Once that initial motivation wears off it will get harder before it gets easier, so plan for that.
This is usually when people who fail at New Year’s resolutions give up. Don’t be one of them. Don’t make the same mistake year after year.
Success requires perseverance through failure.
You must expect difficulty and failure and persevere in spite of it. If you can master that, you will be well on your way to achieving your resolution and making it sustainable.
3. Finding Something You Enjoy Doing Enough to Keep Doing It
If you don’t enjoy what you’re doing, or at the very least, find significant reward in what you’re doing, you won’t do it when your willpower dwindles.
While having strong willpower to do something you hate can work great over the short term, it is not a good strategy for long term sustainability.
If you hate jogging, jogging is not going to be the way to sustain weight loss over the long term. Instead find something you do enjoy. That could mean lifting weights, playing a sport or perhaps it's just about making it social or competitive and putting yourself in a situation where social or competitive elements are involved.
The key is to learn what works for you and pursue that avenue rather than grinding through something you hate with sheer willpower.
If you want your New Year's resolution habits to last they must be something you can take enjoyment from.
4. Setting Up A Good Accountability or Support System
External accountability for many people is the key to ensuring that they stick with habits.
Internal accountability works great for some people if they are highly motivated, but because of our busy modern day schedules and the tendency most of us have to place other things before our physical well-being, almost everyone can benefit from accountability, especially when you are working through the difficult parts of forming a habit.
Accountability can come in many forms, from signing up for personal training to joining a bootcamp class or perhaps just from working out with a group of motivated friends.
Whatever you choose, just make sure that you set up a system of accountability and support that will not allow you to back out when the going gets tough.
Choose to work towards your goals with people that you know will keep you motivated, accountable and focused on your goal.
If you can make a resolution and take care of these 4 items you will be in very good shape to master your resolution and avoid being another stereotypical New Year's resolution failure statistic.
If you're interested in more reading, this article just released by John Berardi of Precision Nutrition goes perfectly with our message.
Gretchen Rubin also has a great piece on how to make your 2016 resolutions successful.
Check them both out for some more great tips!
Lastly, for some interesting reading on why some of us hate resolutions and others make them every year, check this out. It's fascinating and has some major real-world implications for how we should attempt to form habits based on our own personal tendencies!
Happy New Years!