3 Steps to a More Successful New Year’s Resolution
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Let’s be honest… most New Year’s resolutions don’t pan out. You’ll be lucky to make it to February (if you even get started at all). When that happens, there’s a reason for it.
❌ It’s NOT because you aren't disciplined enough.
❌ It has nothing to do with lack of motivation.
❌ And it isn’t because you just don’t have time.
Those things can play a role in throwing you off track, but they’re not the real problem. The actual source of the setback starts at the beginning.
To make a more successful New Year’s Resolution, you need to follow 3 specific steps.
Before we get to those steps, though, make sure you don’t start with a mindset that’s destined to fail in the first place.
Destined for Failure
Every year in late December/early January, we get a bunch of phone calls and messages from new people wanting to lose weight.
Unfortunately, they don’t realize it, but they’re often looking for something that won’t actually solve their problem.
They know quick fixes don’t work. What they DON’T realize is that most popular diets and workout programs (the kind people sign up for in January) are still a type of “quick fix” — regardless of the actual time spent on them.
That’s because the quick fix mentality comes down to a lack of forethought.
Whether it’s something easy, like taking a pill that makes questionable promises, or something more demanding, like a restrictive diet or a group workout program designed to kick your butt every day…
Neither one is realistic for long-term success.
Undercover Quick Fixes
I’m sure you’re not looking for a pill to help you “lOsE 30 pOuNdS in 3 dAyS!” Not all quick fixes are that obvious. But to identify a plan that looks legitimate on the outside, it still only takes a little bit of consideration.
For example, if you have trouble working out regularly because you’re busy with your kids, or you have past injuries that tend to crop up with exercise, it doesn’t take much thought to go, “Hey, maybe a daily, intense workout program isn’t a great fit for me.”
Or with a diet, it only takes a minute of honest thinking to say, “You know, it sounds like I’ll be cooking two separate dinners every night just so I can stay on this diet and still feed my family. I don’t think I’ll want to do that for long.”
Whenever you try to tackle something new without taking the time to evaluate if it’s a realistic pursuit, whether the plan you choose is inherently bad or technically “perfect” on paper… it’s a quick fix.
The best answer is to let us come up with a plan for you. We know the questions to ask and the strategies that will be most effective based on your lifestyle so we can help you build habits that are possible to stick with for forever. (You can apply here.)
But if you’re going to do it yourself, and you’re resolving to start in January, here are 3 steps to follow for a better shot at success:
1. Know Your Real Goal
People who aren’t looking for a quick fix usually don’t ONLY want to lose weight. Not that there’s anything wrong with weight loss, but typically there’s a bigger goal in mind (even subconsciously).
What’s the “why” behind your goal?
Do you want to lose weight so you have more energy and can be more present for your family? Are you hoping to build strength in your back or knees so you don’t have as much pain when you’re active?
When you think you know your goal, keep asking yourself WHY it’s your goal, until you can’t answer it anymore. That’s when you’ve found your REAL goal, and that’s when you can come up with a better plan for success (so you don’t just starve yourself to lose weight — which isn’t healthy OR realistic).
2. Break it Down
Once you know your real goal, break down the steps it’ll take to reach it.
If you want more energy, you may need to focus on getting an extra hour of sleep. Or you might need to improve the quality of the foods you eat to get more nutrients from your diet.
(Side note: If you had just set your goal to “weight loss,” without taking a bit more time to think it through, you may just try to “eat less,” which would have a negative effect on your sleep, nutrition, and, ultimately, your energy.)
But don’t stop there. Break it down further.
How will you get an extra hour of sleep? Will you create a bedtime routine? What will that look like? How will you remember to do it?
Or how will you get more nutrients? Will you start with protein? Could you get 1-2 palm sized servings at each meal?
Be as specific as possible with your resolution rather than just saying “I want to lose 20 pounds.”
3. Be Ready to Adapt
I won’t say this is the MOST important step, but it’s the least commonly practiced of the three.
You’re going to mess up occasionally. You’ll probably lose progress at some point. Sometimes, for one of a million different reasons, things just won’t go according to plan.
Expect it. But also be prepared for it.
Rather than doing what most people do (which is to give up)… adapt. Learn from your mistakes, plan the adjustments you’ll make so it’s less likely to happen again next time, and keep going.
You might even consider adapting by doing something that feels like a step backward (e.g. take a break from weight loss to work on building strength). It may be exactly what you need to be in a better place to make progress a month from now.
Should You Even Make a Resolution?
I’m a big fan of making goals, but I couldn’t tell you the last time I made a New Year’s resolution.
I’m not against making them. If something is important, I think it’s better to start working on it right away rather than waiting (like we talk about in The Worst Fitness Mistake During the Holidays), but I also don’t have a problem with using a fixed point, like the New Year, to hit “reset.”
If you do make a resolution, whatever you decide to work on, my question to you is this:
Are you choosing it because it’s what you want or because it’s what you think you “should” be doing?
Unfortunately, a lot of people do the latter, and they end up getting stuck or giving up because it’s not effective, or they just can’t be consistent with it and don’t reach their goals.
The 3 steps I’ve given you can help you avoid that.
But another way to avoid it is by knowing the myths that surround weight loss — and knowing what to do instead to REALLY lose weight in a healthy, realistic, and sustainable way. You’ll find 5 of the most common (but relatively unknown) myths in our free guide, which you can download here.
The 3 Steps are…
1. Know Your Real Goal — You’ll see more success if you realize your real goal is something like “more energy to play with my kids in the evening” and not simply “lose weight.”
2. Break it Down — Don’t stop with the “outcome” goal (e.g. more energy). Make smaller goals like “eat more minimally-processed foods.” Then even smaller like “include a veggie at each meal.”
3. Adapt — Life happens. Things change. Expect it and plan to adapt your goals as necessary to keep moving rather than giving up (even if it feels like a step backward).
The best answer is to let us come up with a plan for you. We know the questions to ask and the strategies that will be most effective based on your lifestyle so we can help you build habits that are possible to stick with for forever. (Apply here.)