Making New Year's Resolutions? Don't. Do This Instead
It's January 1st, and you're all likely being bombarded with pressure to make a New Year's Resolution. As a gym manager, I can attest that this pressure works. January is the busiest month at most gyms and throughout the weight loss industry. We also know that less than half make it through the year and most are to lose weight.
The problem here is not only the low success rate but the goals themselves. First, most are making a fundamental attribution error meaning that they have one real goal and are attaching it to another. The real goal is to be happy, wealthier, accepted, loved, etc. while the objective becomes to lose weight. This is how weight loss is marketed to us in the first place, so this is understandable. However, weight loss is not the right objective for these goals and often isn't even in the right direction of "health." Read more on this here.
New Year's Resolutions are also typically made in the SMART goal format. You have a specific number of pounds you want to lose by a specific date. The problem with this is that it often takes away from the process. Your body isn't a series of checkpoints. It ebbs and flows as you move through life, and that's beautiful. That's important, and giving specific dates and objectives that might not even be achievable or healthy is not putting us on track to enjoy the process.
On that note, New Year's Resolutions also logistically don't make much sense. January 1st follows a week of holidays, traveling, and time spent out of a regular routine. That's wonderful, and it should be cherished but perhaps it's not the prime time to be thinking big about things you want to accomplish during the year. It's also not the only time to think about your own wellness.
So, we know that New Year's Resolutions are problematic, but with all the sweet sales on treadmills and protein powder, what are our alternatives? Here are my New Year's tips for you.
Search for your real goal.
If you New Year's Resolution is to lose weight, what are you actually trying to achieve? If it's health, then you might want to pick another way to assess your progress or just pick up small positive habits throughout the year. If there are other goals tied into your weight loss goal, break it down. What do you feel insecure about? Is it being accepted, respected, appreciated, loved? If so, try picking up journaling as your New Year's Resolution. Set an achievable goal to journal daily or a few times a week and break down these thoughts and feelings. You'll likely discover another path to achieve them.
Focus on habits not objectives.
I'm a big fan of James Clear's systems approach to achieving things. Instead of setting big SMART goals, try breaking down small habits that will actually support a long-term healthy lifestyle. For example, try a few new workouts or classes until you find something you enjoy that you could keep up. Think about what really enriches your life and understand that wellness is a process. You will have moments of "failure," but in fact, that's life. Think about it, be gentle with yourself, and decide how to move forward with self-respect.
Lose the cliches.
Yes, a New Year feels like a great opportunity for a fresh start with whatever you hope to accomplish. However, January 1st is an arbitrary date. Know that every month, day, hour, and minute is a new opportunity, and only you know what's best for you. Trust yourself to make decisions for yourself, and don't let advertising chip away at your insecurities and force you into goals you don't actually want to achieve.
I hope this is helpful in navigating the pressure of the New Year's Resolution fad. Don't shrink yourself. Play big, and play for you. I wish you all the best in 2017, and as always, keep in touch. I want to hear how your "New Year" is going.
Also, if you're reading this before January 2nd, feel free to join my free Facebook group about body positive wellness in the New Year. You can RSVP here.