As we look back over the last year and welcome in the new, many of us start to make resolutions. We think about what we want to change. What were we unhappy about last year? What would we like to be different as we head into 2019? Often these resolutions involve diet or lifestyle changes. Exercise more, eat less – you get the picture. But most of these resolutions have been abandoned before the Christmas decorations are back in the box. Today I’m sharing five reasons why those pesky resolutions fail.
Take the example of going to the gym. You want to start going to the gym more because you are not making the most of your gym membership. Maybe you haven’t managed to go for the past few months. You feel you are wasting your money. So your goal is to get better value for money from your gym membership? You could just cancel your gym membership and save money. But why did you join the gym – because you wanted to get fitter. So your original goal was to get fit.
Is getting fitter still your goal? Why do you want to get fit? What difference will this make to your life? Having a really clear goal which you are motivated to achieve can help you to stick with that resolution. It can also act as a useful sense check on whether the resolution is the right one. If you weren’t using the gym effectively before what has changed now? It may be that you are more motivated to meet a fitness goal, that you have more time to give to the gym. However, it may be that the gym isn’t the best way for you personally to get fit and that your resolution should be to explore other ways of getting fit to find one that really works for you.
You didn’t plan.
You have a goal, you’ve know what you’ve got to do to achieve it (your resolution). So, you’re good to go, right? Wrong. New year’s resolutions are often made spur of the moment and at a time of the year when we are completely out of our normal routine. What seems entirely manageable on the 1st January can seem entirely unmanageable two weeks into January when you are back into your regular work routine.
Let’s use dieting here. You want to lose weight. Maybe you have a big event coming up this year and you have a target weight you want to get down to. You decide to go on a diet. You know what is involved in the diet plan. You absolutely know what you need to do, you just need to do it. So, where did you go wrong? Often we don’t take enough time to plan how dietary changes are going to fit into our life. How do you make it work on your best friend’s birthday/wedding/new job drinks celebration? What about when you had to pull a series of ten hour days because you had a deadline coming up? You don’t find your own personal challenges in a 30 day diet plan!
When I’m supporting someone to make change I spend a lot of time working with them on developing a plan that works with their life. I help them unpick the barriers that have stopped them making changes in the past and coach them to develop strategies that work for them.
You weren’t scared enough.
This is a bit of a strange one and maybe a little controversial. In my coaching training I learnt that people are much more likely to run away from a threat than they are to run towards a reward. We are programmed to recognise danger and run away from it/avoid at all costs. So, if your resolution is moving towards something positive it may be that your motivation isn’t strong enough to sustain that change. You’ve got to REALLY want that reward.
Flipped the other way (because I really struggled with this concept for a while), when you think about those big changes that you’ve made, that your friends or family have made, can you think of those that came from a place of fear? How often did someone you know give up smoking overnight because they, or someone they loved, had a health scare? Often the challenge in making successful lifestyle changes is that we are not scared enough of the consequences.
Obesity is now known to be one of the single biggest risk factors for breast cancer. That’s pretty scary and sounds like a pretty big motivation for trying to lose weight. But losing weight is really hard and can be a slow process. The reality is that most of us don’t tie a potential increased risk of cancer in the future with trying to lose weight now. We are not scared enough of something that might happen in 20 – 30 years time. What am I trying to say here? Whether your resolution is driven by a need to make a change because of something you are scared of, or because of something positive you are moving towards, make sure it means something to you NOW.
I'm Kim Adams, founder of SAVI Nutrition. A Registered Nutritional Therapist who is passionate about healthy, tasty food. Here I share with you my thoughts on food and health alongside a few of my favourite recipes.