Every new year I have multiple discussions about New Year’s resolutions.
Whether it is listening to friends talk about what they have planned, participating in discussions on social media, or pontificating here on this site about how you can stick to them.
It happens every.single.year.
So I figured this year I would let you all get started, let some of you fall off the wagon, and then swoop in like a superhero after the fact to point out some common mistakes you are probably making with your New Year’s resolutions.
In the sincere hope that I can help you avoid sucking at them, and get you back on track, if you need it.
So put down your Ultra-Green-HerbaCare-Superfood-Detox smoothie (because Detoxes are complete $#@%!) and let’s get into this!
How To Fail At New Year’s Resolutions!
Resolutions are hard.
But sucking at them is pretty easy!
Here are some prime examples of the #ResolutionFails I see every year.
1) Goal Binging – If you are putting together a list of New Year’s resolutions longer than your arm, you’re doing it wrong! New Year’s resolutions are not a manifesto, they are not a bucket list; they’re declaration of short-term goals. Successful goal-setting means 2-3 items that are important to you, and no more than that!
2) Vagueness – Resolutions that can’t be measured are worthless! The important thing to remember about setting goals is making sure they are measurable. For example, while a resolution to “Try to work out” might sounds good, it provides no specific benchmarks by which you can determine success or failure. You have to give yourself quantifiable ways to measure if you are staying on track, so a better resolution would be “I will work out three to four times a week” or “Never let two days pass without a workout.”
Give yourself a way to track your progress!
3) Being Unrealistic – Who doesn’t want to develop a rock-hard body, write a bestselling novel, or land a leading role in a Hollywood blockbuster? But if they aren’t realistic, or highly probable, based on where you are on December 31st then you’re only setting yourself up for failure. Why not have a resolution to focus on the aspect of the goal find appealing and enjoyable? You know… remove the unrealistic aspect of the resolution!
Commit to a basic strength training program, join a writing group, or sign up for a local acting class… make your New Year’s resolutions attainable!
4) Going For a Quick Fix – Why put in the work when you can just go on a fad diet, pop a few magic pills, or ignore how your liver works and go on that new, trendy 30 day detox program? It might seem like your sister’s friend’s co-worker on Facebook has it all figured out because she lost 10 pounds using HerbaCare Ultra-Mega-Sparkburn powder in her morning coffee… but here’s the reality of it; she doesn’t. The only way to really make positive changes is to develop healthy, and positive, habits and treat your body right by eating healthy and nutritious foods.
Plus, that way you avoid the shakes, uncontrollable sweats, and potential heart-attacks she is probably looking at daily.
5) Extreme Changes – Don’t make your New Year’s resolutions about multiple, drastic changes to your life! For the most part all that ensures is that you are going to spend a few weeks, or months, doing things you absolutely hate and making yourself miserable. You can’t go from a completely sedentary lifestyle, and eating fast food all the time, to working out twice a day and eating nothing but steamed broccoli and chicken breasts. You will break!
Instead, work on leveling up your willpower first, and you do that by introducing sustainable small changes to your life!
6) Looking At Other People – The quickest way to demoralize yourself is to base your resolution on someone else! Don’t look to someone who is ultra-fit, or who has been participating in athletics their entire life, and try to be like them. Don’t base your New Year’s resolutions on perfectly posed and lit magazine photos either! That sort of psychologically unhealthy behavior will get you nowhere.
New Year’s resolutions are about looking inward and challenging yourself to become a better version of you, not to become someone else.
7) Giving Up – There are going to be times when your progress seems to grind to a halt, or you think you won’t achieve your resolution. That is normal! Just because you encounter a set-back, don’t throw your hands in the air and rage-quit on your goals. Whenever you feel discouraged, remind yourself that every bit of progress you make towards your goal really does count, no matter how small.
So even if the going has gotten tough, and you aren’t getting as much accomplished as you’d like, don’t give up on yourself. Instead let’s see if we can make some tweaks and set you up for success in the future.
Let’s do this!
How To Be Awesome At New Year’s Resolutions!
First things first, I want this to be the year you get $#!& done!
I don’t care what it is. Running your first 5k. Doing your first pullup. Learning to play that guitar you bought 12 years ago. Writing your first novel.
I don’t care what the goal is, we are going to succeed by changing the way you look at New Year’s Resolutions!
Throw your crappy New Year’s resolutions in the garbage and start fresh.
No more of this stuff:
“I’m going to exercise every day.”
“I’m going to eat better.”
“I am going to drink less soda.”
That is random, nebulous nonsense that is just going to end up pissing you off when you don’t “achieve” it. So why set yourself up for the failure and disappointment?
Want to actually get stuff done? Then adjust the way you approach your resolutions.
First, you need to understand how your brain works, and what influences and controls it. Namely:
- The people around us.
Once you come to grips with this, you can start to build a system that will encourage success. That way you aren’t always relying on your limited willpower to keep you on track.
- Instead of going for a run when you “have the time”, set a calendar alert on your phone/computer tha blocks off that time for you consistently.
- Instead of trying to remember to pack your gym bag in the morning while you are still groggy, you put it by the door the night before.
- Instead of struggling to cook a healthy meal each night, you food prep on Sunday by cooking five meals to reheat.
These are systems.
Motivation and willpower shouldn’t have any real effect on them once you have them in place. They are essentially like writing small computer programs to help you succeed at life. And computer’s don’t feel emotions.
Okay, let’s keep going before my fears of the impending Robopocalypse derail us!
Habits Define Us
First and foremost, we are all creatures of habit.
Our brains are slackers.
They will always look for the path of least resistance, so whatever you have done thousands of times is going to be what you naturally gravitate to. Because once something is a habit, your brain can coast on auto-pilot while you are doing it.
So every time you decide to watch TV after work instead of going to the gym, you are not only failing at building an after work exercise habit; but you are also reinforcing the habit of sitting on your duff after a long day of work. Every time you don’t bolster a new habit you are trying to create, you actually reinforce the other side of that habit’s coin.
The super villain side!
So plan for your new habits to be small and actionable. They need to be true or false – I did or I didn’t. A five minute walk. A 30 second body hang from your pull-up bar. 5 minutes of playing the guitar. 250 words written in your book.
“Do or do not, there is no try. – Yoda“
Just do it every.single.day.
Until it requires no thought. Until it just becomes something you do.
Things like rewards and accountability systems, repetition, etc… but instead of boring you now I am just going to recommend you pick up a copy of “The Power of Habit” by Charles Duhigg instead.
He says it much better than I ever could!
Environments Influence Us
You are do not live in a bubble!
(If you do, my apologies)
Everything around you is constantly influencing you whether you know it or not.
The urge to check your phone constantly while out with your friends. The desire to surf Facebook or Reddit from your work computer. Your stomach urging you to pull into that Dunkin Donuts you pass every day on your way to work.
All things that are constantly there, tempting you.
And they are all things that rely on your willpower and motivation to succeed. And that is almost always a losing proposition in the long run…
So, this year I want you to take control of your environment!
I want you to remove as much negative influence from your life as you can. Anything that’s in opposition to your New Year’s resolutions gets the axe.
Out of sight, out of mind!
Make it harder to continue the bad habits plaguing you…
- Throw out all junk food in your house.
- Move your TV out of your bedroom.
- Blocking time wasting websites on your work computer.
- Take a different route home that doesn’t pass by a Dunkin Donuts.
- Leaving your phone in the car when you are out with friends.
Make it easier to develop the good habits you want…
- Only stocking your fridge with healthy food.
- Put that lonely guitar in front of your TV.
- Never grocery shop hungry.
- Set your homepage on your computer to your favorite fitness website *cough*This one*cough*
- Make a deal with your friends that the first person to check their phone pays the tab.
Create your own success by re-structuring your life, it really isn’t that hard once you start!
People Impact Us
You are going to need to build your own super-hero team of awesome!
Sometimes even Batman, with his unbreakable willpower and meticulously designed Bat-Cave, still needs the rest of the Justice League to succeed.
There is nothing wrong with that.
So you are going to not only need to recruit some allies in your quest to be awesome, you might also need to cut some negative influences out of your life.
“You are the average of the five people you spend the most time with. – Jim Rohn“
This could mean a lot of things.
Joining a club that focuses on your interests, getting a gym membership with a friend, participating in online communities, hosting events on your own related to your New Year’s resolutions.
Whatever gets you away from negative influences and around people who share your goals.
We become the average of the people we associate with the most!
If the people around us are happy, healthy, and successful we are going to benefit from that. And, conversely, if we surround ourselves with negative people, they are going to drag you down with them.
You don’t (and shouldn’t) have to go it alone! There are potential allies out there with the same dreams and goals, you just have to find them. These are the people that will make the difference when you feel you can’t go it alone. The people that will motivate you, push you, and hold you accountable.
So find them, and join together!
Here’s an example of what I am talking about… let’s say your New Year’s resolution is running your first 5k. Here’s how I would do it.
- Habit – I will walk/jog for at least fifteen minutes, five days per week for the next month. I will always take the stairs instead of an escalator/elevator.
- Environment – I will put my running shoes next to the door so I see them every day. I will park as far as I can, in a parking lot, from the door. I will set an alarm on my phone to remind myself to go for a mid-day stroll at work.
- People – I will join a running club.
So let’s turn around your 2016 New Year’s resolutions and do something great this year! Build those positive habits! Create your ideal environment for success! Surround yourself with awesome people!
And do it right now.
If your resolutions are health and fitness based, you already know you are at the right place. You can find all the free resources you need to get started right here; and if you are really looking for some in-depth guidance, then you can always pick up “The Heroes’ Transformation Guide” by yours truly.
But I want to hear from you, what are your 2016 New Year’s Resolutions and how are you structuring them for success?!?
P.S. – Make sure to get your free e-book, “The 7 Fitness Obstacles Newbies Face” by subscribing to our newsletter… no spam, I promise!