The New Year is only 26 days old or about 7% over and probably close to 75% of people making New Year’s resolutions have already given up or will before the end of the month. Did you grab that bag of potato chips after swearing off junk food? Have you forgotten about the gym for the past week after forking over two crisp $20s for a new membership at the beginning of January?
It doesn’t matter what your New Year’s Resolution was, you’ve probably already given up on it, started over or decided it’s not worth it. You may even be wondering why you made a resolution in the first place. After all, you’re life isn’t that bad. You’re only 30 pounds overweight, which doesn’t seem like that big of a deal.
All the rationalizations in the world start to pop into our minds round mid-January. You’ve tried waking up early to exercise for the past two weeks and were actually successful for about half of those days. However, it feels better to stay in bed and you convince yourself that you’ll exercise later in the day, but it never happens.
Before you throw in the towel and make 2017 a bit of a mirror for 2016, it might help to understand why we so often fail at New Year’s resolutions. Experts will spout of a number of different reasons and some of they are certainly true. However, the reason you specifically fail may not be the same as anybody else you know.
If you’re like me, you’ve struggled with New Year’s resolutions in the past. Maybe you even boycotted them a few times (I sure did), but now you want to make this year’s stick. Understanding why we fail may be the first step to success. Here are seven of the most common reasons why you can’t make that New Year’s resolution stick.
You Really Don’t Want to Change
While it may seem admirable in the moment, losing weight may not be something you really want to do. Sure, you’d like to be thinner and if it means a healthier overall life, that’s fine, too, but you really don’t want to do the work to change.
Losing weight isn’t about exercise and diet. In fact, those may be the last two words you ever want to hear again and the word diet may be the worst four-letter-word in the book. If you could just magically shed 25 pounds all would be right with the world.
However, that’s not how it works. With any New Year’s resolution, you will need to make changes in your life. If you want to lose weight this year, it won’t just be about getting up off your butt and moving more, but also about eating healthier foods and plenty of other changes. Maybe you need to wake up earlier to hit the gym or skip that Netflix marathon to grocery shop more often.
Any new habit (which is what a New Year’s Resolution is) requires change to enjoy the benefits. It’s easy to want to be skinnier and healthier, but without a good reason to change, the motivation can be sucked out of you before you really get started.
Instant Gratification Not Met
Maybe the most common reason people don’t change today is due to the need for instant gratification. New Year’s resolutions seem all shiny and new in late December, but when January 7th rolls around and you step on the scale to see it’s only moved 0.5, you lose all motivation to continue.
We live in a society of instant gratification, but we cannot allow your New Year’s resolutions to fall prey to this trap. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, and you can’t get to the finish line without falling a few times, getting back up and pushing forward.
Seemingly Unachievable Goals
Often, we bite off far more than we can chew, which can suck our motivation fast. Maybe you found out you’re 100 pounds overweight and your goal is to lose it all by spring. Well, you only have three months to do it, which means you need to lose, on average 33.33 pounds per month or more than one pound a day.
First, if this is your goal, that kind of weight loss is simply not healthy. Second, setting a goal like this is setting yourself up for failure.
We have to set goals that stretch us and make us push ourselves, but they also have to be achievable. It may be achievable to lose 100 pounds in a year (2 pounds a week for 52 weeks is reasonable and still healthy), but expecting this type of weight loss in just three months is a mistake.
Making your New Year’s resolution achievable will help to ensure you don’t quit. It’s much easier to stay motivated if you know you only need to lose 2 pounds a week and you find out in mid-January you’ve already lost 6 pounds.
You Don’t Have a Plan
So many of us expect to wake up on January 1st and just get right to achieving our New Year’s Resolution. We don’t put together a plan because the resolution was really just something we said to others to make ourselves look good when they asked.
If you really want to change, you need a plan. Nobody loses 30 pounds by accident. They set the goal, break it down into smaller goals and put together a plan to achieve the goal. They take the time to figure out what they will eat, how much they can have and when they will eat.
Achieving your New Year’s resolution means you need a plan. If you didn’t make a plan for this year, you don’t have to give up. Instead, make your plan now and get started.
Never Defined Why
It’s fun to say, “I want to lose 30 pounds this year.” It makes us feel good in the moment after someone asked what our New Year’s resolution will be. However, the what isn’t going to happen unless you define the why.
The What – Lose 30 pounds
The Why – Because it sounds good
In this scenario, this is your what and your why. The what is pretty and would be wonderful, but the why is basically undefined and setting you up for failure.
Do you want to lose 30 pounds because you want to gain energy? Are you worried about your overall health? Are you single and you’d like to look your best before entering back into the dating world?
There are plenty of great reasons for losing 30 pounds, but if you never define the why, you’ll never accomplish the what.
Over Thinking Instead of Doing
You cannot think your resolution into fruition. You have to get off your butt and do. If you want to lose weight, you cannot stay still and think about it and expect the number on the scale to go down. Instead, you have to get up, move around, change your eating habits and do the things that will move you close to your goal.
Taking on Too Many Resolutions
Are you that person that answers the resolution question with something like, “Oh, I have too many to count”? Taking on too many resolutions will most likely lead to failure.
While some will tell you to focus on one, that’s not what I believe everybody should do. Yes, it’s great to be laser focused on one new habit at a time, but you can actually stack your habits to achieve more in a shorter amount of time.
For example, my New Year’s resolutions for this year were to go to bed earlier, wake up earlier, exercise first thing in the morning, quit eating sugar and cut back on drinking alcohol. These all fit nicely together.
Going to bed earlier will most likely make waking up earlier easier. This is simply an adjustment in my schedule, which makes it really just two resolutions rolled into one.
Exercising first thing in the morning is far easier to do when you wake up earlier.
Quitting sugar and cutting back on alcohol are probably the hardest two. When you remove alcohol it’s common to crave sweets since many alcoholic drinks are loaded with sugar.
Out of all of my resolutions the only ones that take a large amount of willpower are quitting sugar and waking up early. However, the exercise helps with the sugar and the going to bed early helps with the waking up early. All of these resolutions work together, which makes them possible.
Of course, they are all designed to push me closer to my goal of getting back under the weight of 200 pounds. Plus, I have other goals for my productivity this year, which waking up earlier will help with.
You don’t need to focus on just one resolution at a time to achieve change in your life. If you have proper motivation, you can tackle multiple resolutions all leading you to one larger goal.
There are several other reasons why we don’t stick to our New Year’s resolutions. However, these are some of the most common. If you take the time to put together a plan and you have the proper motivation, you can achieve any change in your life you desire.
What’s holding you back? Why did you quit your New Year’s Resolution this year or are you still on track? Comment below and share your thoughts.