It’s a new year and that feeling of anticipation is in the air. The resolutions are fresh and you can’t remember when you’ve been so positive or optimistic. The slate has been wiped clean and you feel like nothing can stop you from achieving your goals. Well, that’s the theory anyway. In reality it’s just another day and the challenges are just as great as they were last year.
Still, I believe this time of year can be a great opportunity to take advantage of that sense of optimism and renewal that can finally get you to achieve what you’ve always wanted. So how do you avoid screwing it up? Seriously, most new year’s resolutions are caput by the end of January…and you don’t want that to happen to you.
Here are seven big mistakes that people often make when they’re making new year’s resolutions:
1) Making Unrealistic Resolutions
Planning to give up chocolate this year, even though you love it? Resolved to work out EVERY day in 2017? Promised yourself you’ll NEVER watch TV again? Hahaha. It’s not going to happen.If your resolution is nearly impossible and goes too far away from your norm then you’re setting yourself up for failure. Going from sitting on the couch every evening to working out seven days a week isn’t going to be sustainable for you and you’ll feel overwhelmed.
Make reasonable adjustments that are in line with your current behaviour. If you’re working out 2 days a week then increase it to 4 days a week. Resolve to finally have a defined weight training routine, rather than just “winging it” each time you hit the gym. Don’t promise to give up all treats. Decide that you’re only going to have treats on the weekend, in one or two meals.
2) Making Vague or Weak Resolutions
One of the most common resolutions is to “be healthier”. That’s very admirable, but what does that mean exactly? How will you measure it? If you had a piece of broccoli once a month and you never ate any before, would you be healthier? How significant would a change like that be to your “healthiness”? Not much, probably, but that’s not even the point. If you make a vague resolution like being healthier then you’re not going to get any specific results.
If you want to lower your blood pressure and come up with a specific way of doing that (exercise 3x a week and meditate 15 mins a day), then you’ve made a more useful resolution. Although a big-picture goal like “have visible abs” is great to give you a vision, it’s important to focus on the process that’s going to get you there.
So visible abs could be broken down into specific steps that will get you those results:
- Weight train 4-5 days per week
- Do 1-2 HIIT sessions per week
- Eat 1g per pound of my bodyweight in protein each day
- Have a treat only once per week on the weekend
- Prepare 90% of my meals myself and bring them with me when on-the-go
- Sleep at least 7 hours each night
- Give up drinking alcohol
In case you’re wondering, the steps above are actually a good way to get you on that path to visible abs. Breaking down the steps will often make you consider whether it’s a goal that you’re really interested in achieving.
Still, make sure that your goal is ambitious and really drives you forward to change. No one ever lost 30 pounds when they set out to lose 10 pounds. Reach for the stars and make sure you put in the required effort to get there.
3) Trying To Do It Alone
Being accountable to someone is an important part of succeeding with a goal. The reason I created my Lean365 online membership program is so people can be part of a supportive group that’s working on achieving the same thing – a lean lifestyle. Having a one-on-one coach is ideal, but I realize that not everyone is in a position to pay the regular fees associated with that. The membership program is all online on the site, and you could go through the process on your own if you really want to, but the private Facebook Group provides the additional benefit of accountability.
Many people do well when they first set their goal, but start to stumble a few weeks or months into it. That’s why many people have a history of yo-yo dieting. Consistency is key. When things get tough, you’ll have someone to give you a nudge in the right direction again. When you’re on a roll, the combined force of you and your accountability partners will be indestructible.
4) Having Weak Reasons
When you’re If you tell yourself you want to lose ten pounds, but the best reason you can come up with is to fit into your jeans from high school then you will probably give up sooner rather than later. You need to have a strong reason, and preferably a lot of strong reasons, for achieving your goal. Want to get stronger and fitter so you can play tennis with your kids (and future grandkids some day), or so you can spend more exciting quality time with your spouse (yeah, I went there)? Maybe you want to eat more vegetables to reduce your risk of the cancer that runs in your family. Any reason that fills you with a burning desire is a good one.
Having a daily, weekly, and monthly check-in with yourself to assess your progress towards your goal is useful. You know how you’re enthusiastic about something for a few days and then you lose interest, or something else distracts you? You need to overcome that natural human behaviour by constantly reminding yourself about what you want to achieve. I like to think of it as “boosting” your motivation regularly.
Everyone gets that whole “epiphany” feeling sometimes, convinced that their overwhelming desire for a lean body on January 3 (the day you cleared the cupboards of all the “holiday” food and decided to never have it again) is still going to be there by February. It’s not just about making the commitment once, because plenty of things will get in the way later on. You’ll be tired, you’ll be irritable, or you’ll just find other things to do that feel more important than prepping food and working out. We all need a regular boost of motivation to keep us going, so create a system of monitoring and stick to it.
6) Berating Yourself for Slipping
Whatever resolution you make, expect to experience some obstacles along the way. You may get injured or sick, which sidetracks your workout regime and makes you lose motivation. You may have a couple more beers than you planned and eat the greasy takeaway food you weren’t planning to eat. You may have a tough emotional time or extra stress at work and your resolution doesn’t seem as important anymore.
It’s easy to pretend that making a resolution steels you against those challenges, but you’re only human and you’ll probably slip occasionally. The worst thing you can do is beat yourself up about it. Feeling guilty tends to make you adopt the “Screw it, why bother?” mentality that totally blows your plans.
Forgive yourself, do what it takes to get back on track, and keep moving forward.
7) Making Too Many Commitments
Most ambitious and driven people want to really “juice” the year for all it’s got. It’s a noble pursuit, but you need to rein it in if you’re taking too much on board. Breaking down your goals into the months that you’re focusing on them is a good idea. January, not surprisingly, is not the best time to work on achieving everything.
I can’t even count the number of times I’ve put “learn to play keyboard” on my list, along with about a dozen or so things that are more important to me than learning to play the keyboard. Not surprisingly, I haven’t really gotten around to learning to play. This year, the keyboard is still on the list (I’ve had one sitting in my home for about 5 years now), but I’m making the goal to play a song once a week for 20 minutes. It’s a smaller goal, but it’s more in line with my actual desire. I’m not trying to be a professional keyboard player or a join a band in 2017, but I do want the simple pleasure of making a little music in my spare time.
Kicking Butt in 2017
I know a lot of people considered 2016 a bad year, mainly because of all the celebrity deaths. Honestly, if you measure your year by the number and quality of famous people who left us, you don’t have a lot of control over how great this year is. Really, it should be all about YOU kicking butt in 2017, not about whether Betty White beats the Grim Reaper one more year.
So make your plans and consider your resolutions and how you’re going to follow through with them. We all want to achieve our goals and feel like we’re on top of the world. Get excited, get ambitious, but also get real. Figure out how you’re going to do it and you’ll avoid the common mistakes that most people make with new year’s resolutions.
Here’s to a happy, healthy, lean, strong, successful 2017 for all of us!