Why You're Not Going to Meet Your New Year’s Resolution in 2019
Yep. I said it. You’re going to fail. You can tell me how this year is going to be different, or you can say that I don’t know what I’m talking about, but no matter what you are saying to your me/your computer screen right now I don’t need to pay for a subscription to a statistics site to prove that you have not met your resolutions in the past. For those of you who have met a dietitian like myself, I’m hoping they were incredibly encouraging and helpful and I strive to be that way too most of the time. However, somebody needs to call out this New Year’s resolution mess before we waste any more precious time and energy on something that has not and will not work for us. So here comes some real talk, but I promise it’s to help you succeed. Here are some things that you may currently do, and then should stop doing to increase your chances of achieving your resolutions:
You wait until New Years Day to make changes.
Most commercial plans to change anything start in the action phase, where you just jump in cold turkey and try to completely switch up your life in a matter of days to weeks. Consider this: if that has not worked for you in the past it will most likely not work for you in the future. You did not fail, these plans failed you. Take time to plan and prepare for change, and don't be afraid to keep things slow, especially when starting off.
Your goals are too vague.
If you simply say "I'm going to lose weight" you are significantly less likely to meet your goal compared to someone else who states something more specific like "I'm going to lose 1 pound every week for the next month" and also has smaller goals (objectives) that help them get to their big goals, like "I'm going to eat three servings of vegetables each day and exercise for 30 minutes three days per week all month". There. You have a clear view of your goals and now you have a map to get you to your destination. A great way to make sure your goals are as helpful as possible is making sure they are SMART. Here's a nifty link if you'd like more info about goal setting.
You try to force yourself to accomplish what you should do, not work with what you will do.
I used to hold off on exercising because I wanted to be the kind of person who woke up in the morning to workout first thing like everyone recommends. But in order to do this I had made a plan to train myself to wake up early. Let it be known I attempted this at least four times over the span of six months and did not exercise for a single day. There is the glamorous look of a stereotypical fit person waking up in the dark, walking into the kitchen to prepare their bulletproof coffee and avocado gluten-free toast, then going out for a run and beating the sun home. If you're that person, kudos to you. Myself, and so many other people, need to learn that If you're not that person, that's absolutely amazing too. Don't feel like you have to do something that does not fit with your lifestyle, especially if it keeps you from working towards your goal in the first place. If you can only walk in place during your 5 minute coffee break that’s better than nothing and it can only be improved from there.
You approach your resolutions with an all-or-nothing mindset instead of curiosity.
Don't be afraid to fail - that's how we learn! Say you want to eat less sugar this year (of course, your goal would be much more specific than that), but then you walk by your favorite bakery where the old you got your daily donut. New you resists the first day or so, but lo and behold new you gives into old ways and eats the donut. Old you returns, pats new you on the back saying “you gave it a good run,” and then you get a second donut because the mission has failed anyway.
Consider this alternative, you eat the donut but then figure out a strategy for future you to not eat the donut on a daily basis instead of feeling guilty and giving up. Maybe change your route so you don't pass by that bakery? Be creative! There are no wrong answers here. Change isn't black and white, and it certainly does not go in one direction - you are going to have ups and downs and learning what works best and what absolutely does not work for you will ultimately help you reach your goals.
You have not been patient enough for change.
In addition to the ton of effort and preparation it takes to properly change, it also takes time. Patience is a critical ingredient to change, especially when the novelty of the new lifestyle you adopted wears off, or if life surprises you with unexpected stress. Don't expect a significant amount of change overnight, or in a week, or in a month. Change takes months to years, y'all. Maintaining that change is something you have to keep up for the rest of your life. So give yourself time, grace, and compassion, and don't rush things.
You’re working alone.
I understand the independent lone wolf look is really trendy in American culture, but you need to remember that no matter what your personal successes are today you did not achieve them alone. There was a support system in one capacity or another. Meeting a New Year’s Resolution, or any goal at any time of the year, is much more feasible when you have a support system. Also realize that who helps you is easy to determine, but how family, friends, professionals, and groups help you is your decision and needs to be communicated by you because even your closest friend may not know how to motivate you at first.
Okay, I admit I may have been a little over-dramatic with my title choice. Maybe it was less of a prediction and more of a dare - I dare you to prove me wrong. And I hope the information above helps you do so.
Emily Karibian, RD, LD
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