By now, I am sure we have all seen the advertisements that come with the New Year. It seems like there is an advertisement geared toward every resolution. The fitness centers have their promotions for those who are trying to lose weight. Weight Watchers and Nutrisystem have their promotions for those who desire to have a healthier diet. And if your New Years’ resolution if to save money, deep discounts and bargains await those who will spend money but not feel bad because they took advantage of a big sale.
Because resolutions usually come about from people looking back on the previous year and wanting to make improvements, it should surprise no one that the top five resolutions are usually to exercise more, eat healthier, save money, become less stressed, and to lose weight. There are others such as traveling more, improving relationships, or finding a new job; but those top five are usually consistently the top five. No matter how many resolutions I make year after year, two resolutions are made every year. One is to eat healthier and the other is to drink more water. I have struggled with these two resolutions for several years and would normally give up on these resolutions within the first few weeks of the year. I believe that these resolutions never led to real change because I never made a real commitment to change. In essence, all I did was verbalize a wish.
Here are a few reasons why resolutions fail.
- You think it will be easy. It is easy to make a statement in December that you will lose weight, save money, or in my case, eat healthier. It sounds really good and deep down you intend to fulfill the resolution. But then January 1 comes around and you realize that it is going to be a lot harder than you realized. You suddenly realize that your resolution to save money means that you cannot go on that emotional shopping spree. Or that it is going to be hard to fulfill the resolution of eating healthy if you still grab fast food at lunchtime every day. When it gets hard, the easiest and most natural thing to do is to fall back into bad habits and that is what a lot of people do.
- You are not ready for the resolution. In the past, the only reason why eating healthier was a resolution of mine was because other people would tell me that I needed to eat healthier and I agreed. I was serious when I made the resolution because I agreed that I needed to eat healthier but I was not ready to eat healthier; therefore, the resolution failed. It wasn’t until I started feeling sluggish and realized I needed more energy that I began to make a conscious effort at fulfilling the resolution. You cannot make a resolution because everyone else is making resolutions. Your resolution has to be personal and important to your well-being. If you do not know why the resolution is important to fulfill, then it was doomed to fail before you made it.
- You are not ready for sustained change. This one may sting but it is true for many of us. The harsh reality is that many resolutions fail because we made the resolution but we were never really ready to put in the work to make the change. I can say that I want to eat healthier and may even know that that is what is best for my health, but I if don’t make the effort to seek out healthy places to eat for lunch or shop for healthy food to make for dinner, then I am not truly ready to eat healthily. The fact that I know I need to make the change will lead me to make the resolution but my not being ready to make the change will keep me from fulfilling it.
So what can be done so that you are not just making a declaration of what you want to see in your life but are actually taking steps to make the change?
- Recruit Cheerleaders! Cheerleaders are the people who will encourage and support you even when you slip back into old habits. These are not the people who are on the sidelines waiting for you to slip up so that they can tell you that they knew that you were not going to succeed and then are almost gleeful that you proved them right. I am talking about the people who will offer words of encouragement if they sense you starting to struggle a little. Now, to recruit cheerleaders, you have to share your resolution with others. This sounds simple but many people do not share their resolution because they do not want the whole world to be a witness if they are not successful. For about two years I did not tell anyone about my desire to start a blog until I knew that I was truly ready to start it. I did not want to start this blog out of obligation because I had talked so much about it and everyone was waiting on me to start it. I began to let people know about the blog once I was sure that I was ready to start this blog and put in the work to keep it going. Once you are ready to let the world know that you want to make a real change, recruit the most encouraging people in your circle to be your cheerleaders.
- Make adjustments to accommodate your change. You have to make space in your life for the change. For example, it sounds great to make a resolution to reduce stress by attending yoga classes but you have to make time in your busy schedule to attend the classes. If you do not consciously make the extra time in your already busy schedule, you will become frustrated and not able to keep your resolution. My resolution to eat healthier is only going to be successful if I make a conscious effort to put healthy items on my grocery list as opposed to the not so healthy items that I am accustomed to putting on my shopping list. When making resolutions, consider what changes you have to make in your schedule, lifestyle, or even your budget. Be mindful of the adjustments that need to be made to ensure that your resolutions lead to sustained change.
- Break down and be specific with your resolution. A resolution can sometimes demand such a change in your lifestyle that it requires you to break down your anticipated change into little steps. You may walk away feeling like a failure if you do not break your resolution into small, attainable steps. My resolution to eat healthier does not mean that suddenly on January 1 I will be eating healthy every night. That is unrealistic since it is very difficult to change your entire diet overnight. I may have to start by eating healthy twice a week, then move up to five days a week, until I can make it into a daily habit. Also, be sure to be specific with your resolution. Define what healthy means to you. Does healthy mean less meat? Or does healthy to you mean no meat? Does healthy mean more plant based food? When dealing with resolutions that require a lifestyle change, your resolution may have to be more specific and broken down into smaller goal
Most people make resolutions with the ultimate goal of keeping them. I hope that this post will help you see why some resolutions may have not succeeded in the past and assist you with fulfilling this year’s resolutions.
Comment below and tell me what you feel has been the barrier to you succeeding with resolutions in the past and what you will do differently in 2020. Or if you are successful with keeping your resolutions, please share how you made that happen.