You know the drill. Every time the clock strikes midnight on December 31st, people inevitably start asking you that dreaded question, “What’s your New Year’s resolution?” You’ve come to expect the question and likely something prepared to the effect of:
- “I resolve to get into better shape.”
- “I resolve to start taking better care of myself.”
- “I resolve to invest more in myself.”
Sound familiar? It’s okay, you can admit it; we’re all guilty of this. We’ve all made similar resolutions in the past and, for the vast majority of us, we’ve fallen flat on our face year after year.
Research from the University of Scranton found that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s goals.
Do resolutions simply not work? Not exactly. The problem is not necessarily that we set resolutions, but rather that set resolutions that lack clarity, structure and purpose. Without those things, we are destined to fail.
Here are some specific steps you can take to help set yourself up for success:
- Be specific: It’s not enough to say “I’m going to get into better shape”, you need to define what that means. Is that losing 10 pounds of fat? Gaining 10 pounds of muscle? Improving your 10k time? Without a way of objectively measuring your progress, it’s hard to know if you’re on track, and thus stay motivated. Statistically speaking, pursuing performance goals (i.e. training to run a 10k) yield better results than chasing more abstract aesthetic goals. Often when we meet performance goals, the aesthetic changes happen along the way!
- Create behaviour goals to accomplish your outcome goal: A behaviour goal is an action, not an outcome (i.e. “I plan to go to the gym 3 times and prepare 5 of my own dinners each week”). These behaviours impact your larger resolution, whether that be weight-loss, weight-gain, or improved performance. The most important part of behaviour goals: you are in control of whether or not they happen.
- Give yourself deadline (and a carrot): There should be something amazing in it for you once you achieve your goal! Want to get a beach-body this year? Book your tropical getaway NOW. Want to run a half-marathon? Sign up for one NOW. Once you’ve got that date booked on your calendar, you have a reason not to delay action.
- Have an accountability system in place: Find a gym-buddy who is at least as motivated as you are. Knowing that they’ll be waiting for you will help motivate you to get there on the tougher days. Don’t have a gym buddy? Hire a coach. Coaches are experts in helping people achieve exactly what you’re looking to achieve, and have experience helping people over the hurdles you face along the way. Also, it’s amazing the impact that making a financial investment has on one’s commitment level. Trust me – if you’ve invested financially, you won’t want to see that money go to waste!
- Don’t overlook the power of your mindset: Here are two different ways of framing the same basic message:
- “If I don’t get to the gym today, I’ll fall behind on my progress and feel unattractive on my trip to Hawaii.”
- “I’m going to the gym today so I can continue to make great progress and ensure that I’m in the best shape of my life for my trip to Hawaii!”
The mind is a powerful thing. Our thoughts have a way of becoming self-fulfilling prophecies. Which option sounds better and which do you want to become a reality?
One last word from the wise (at least I like to think so): Accept, before you begin, that nobody is perfect. Everybody will have at least one setback along their journey. If you have a rough day, acknowledge it for what it is, identify what lead to that happening, and take any possible steps to avoid a recurrence in the future. Most importantly, forgive yourself and realize that one bad day is NOT the end of the word.
Remember: even though 92% of people don’t see their New Year’s resolutions through to the end, there’s still 8% of people who apply the above principles and actually achieve what they set out to.
What IF you could?
Sean Allt, BA, CSEP-CPT, CFST
Professional Training Coach / Product Manager
Innovative Fitness – TELUS Garden
p. 604.974.5942 / c. 604.314.8627