Every year so many people around the world from numerous backgrounds and cultures set new years’ resolutions. Every year a large percentage of them fail. Many gyms experience a huge increase in fitness participants and gym memberships into the month of January, but by February many fall off and the overall people traffic decreases. In this article we will discuss reasons why that happens and suggestions to avoid it from happening.
So- How about those New Years’ resolutions? Are they being developed, nurtured and undertaken with daily considerations? (like taking care of a newborn baby) Or are they hanging out somewhere stuffed away like last year’s Christmas decorations that were stuffed deep in a box somewhere? Time to clean off that plume of dust that’s gathered on that box, err I mean to revisit those goals you made for yourself. Popular resolutions consist of exercising, losing weight, saving money, and quitting smoking. All healthier goals to aim for so why are resolutions so hard to stick to? Which ones did you set for yourself?
Daily reminders, affirmations, and reminding thy self of the “why” a change is being exacted-may help. Keeping thy eyes on the prize, setting small goals, tracking the starting point, and progress along the way may help.
Tamsin Astor, PhD, chief habit scientist, and international speaker, shares her research with us at Nordonia Hills.News, as she says, “By February ninety-two percent of people have failed in sticking to their new year’s resolutions.” https://tamsinastor.com/ for more information on Tamsin and her services.
Tamsin says there are a few reasons why this happens:
- You don’t use the neuroscience effectively: habits have three parts: CUE-ACTION (habit)-REWARD. It doesn’t work if you only change the habit, but not the cue or the reward.
- You don’t work on the context of the habit: people, environment, calendaring, etc.
- You don’t connect your habit change to your big juicy WHY
If you know that quitting smoking, eliminating cheeseburgers or greasy fries from your diet, or adopting an exercise routine, will help you be a healthier version of YOU, why is it so hard to adapt to and implement change? Because we are creatures of habit and our habits often lead us to temptations, along with the fact that we didn’t’ adopt those unhealthy habits overnight, so we won’t eliminate them overnight either. Take weight gain for example and the habits that may have led there. Have we looked at what cued us to want to exact the change? (acid reflux, weight gain, feeling sluggish- to name a few.) Is there a weeknight outing with friends that is part of the habit that needs to change first in order to exact a change and stick to it?
Here are some tips to get back on track for those new years’ resolutions to lower to help lower that 92% February “quitters club”:
-Adopt simple and realistic goals
-Set aside time each day to reflect and implement the new behavior
-Measure where you were before and where you are now. Reward yourself along the way for the small changes you have noticed or have implemented.
-Be realistic in setting goals for yourself, and know your limitations.
-Accept little things that must change in order to accept the big changes that come later.
For example, if you want to save money and know that you go out to eat too often but do not like going to the grocery store to shop for weekly groceries and meal plan, what can you do instead? Order groceries online, cut back on cable television or streaming costs, etc.
The long term goal of losing weight is lowering blood pressure, staying healthier, perhaps lowering diabetes risk, and more. The short term goal can be fitting into last year’s jeans, tee shirts or bathing suit. Keep your eyes on the prize!
So why do people fall off track of achieving their new years’ goals?
Many try to do too much too fast. They change too many things all at once. For example, they may go to the gym every day for a week and stay an hour, whereas they never had gone before. This may leave soreness, getting more injuries, or measuring individual successes by what the weight scale shows, instead of how they feel or where they have come from (prior to implementing the change).
Start SLOW and be consistent. A daily walk for thirty minutes each day when you were not in the habit of moving daily before is enough to exact a change on the body and the mind. Take note of what you feel like on day 1 of the behavior change. Was it hard to walk that mile without tiring or being out of breath? What was it like on day 7 or day 14, how did you feel differently? Did you pick up the pace or walk longer?
Do you compare yourself to others and their goals? Everyone is on a different path along their journey. Comparisons hardly ever help. Each person has their own “why” they are exacting a change.
According to Simon Sinek, an American author, and inspirational speaker on business leadership, “Finding your why is a powerful tool that can unlock your motivation, drive and passion. It helps align your actions with your values and beliefs.”
So what if you want to quit smoking because your “why” is to get healthier, feel better, and also save money? Write them down. Write yourself a list of “why”. Put that list in your pocket to remind you of your “why”. Take that list out of your pocket when you fill up gas in your car and are fighting the urge to satisfy that nicotine craving. Focus on the short term goal. A short term goal might be the cost of a pack of cigarettes, which is what many smoke a day, at almost $10 a pack. A short term goal to focus on might be how much you will save per week ($70), and month (30×7= $210), and a year (365×7= 2555) if you give up that $10 a day habit. Withdraw that money each week and put it in a separate account, name that account something fun like “The Vacation Fund” and do something fun and planned out with money you always wanted to save!
Remember to Reward yourself after reaching small milestone goals, and celebrate them!
As you revisit the goals you have set for yourself this year, keep in mind that everyone is on a different path in their journeys. Take time to reflect on any progress that has been made. Celebrate small victories along the way, as simple as they may be. Be consistent and hold yourself accountable to yourself -for the time you are carving out for your own journey and changes to be exacted.