by Robert Maxwell
With 2019 just around the corner, many new year's resolutions are about to emerge. Sadly, most won't make it to February. If you have a few new leaves to turn over this year, and want to avoid joining the resolution burnout crowd in a month or two, this article's for you. Whether you're after a stronger body, more productivity, or less dessert, if you want to avoid failure with your new year's resolution, you've first got to understand why so many others don't succeed. The way I see it, there are 3 main reasons.
"I'm cutting out all sugar this year", the young lady told me proudly. "I'm also training for my first half marathon, and going vegan." Not wanting to dampen her enthusiasm, I simply smiled and nodded. Experience would soon tell her what I chose not too – that if you try to change too much, too fast, you'll crash and burn. Sure enough, without a few months I noticed the young lady's Facebook posts about healthy meals and jogging start to dwindle. Before long, she stopped posting entirely about her new regime. The progress photos, which at first had shown drastic weight loss, stopped coming. Some time later, I saw the girl in person, again sporting all the weight she'd worked so hard to lose in the first couple months after new year's. I was sorry, but not surprised. Like so many before her, she'd allowed the tradition of new year's resolutions to push her into trying to fix everything at once. The human psyche doesn't work like that. If you insist on making a new year's resolution, make it a small, sustainable step in the right direction. Otherwise you're setting yourself up for failure and disappointment.
It's a well documented fact that most creatures respond better to positive motivation than negative. Study after study has confirmed this in animals, and human beings are no different. Promise of reward will win out nearly every time over fear of failure. This is one reason many health and fitness related new year's resolutions fail. Overweight, unhealthy people who decide they want to improve starting January 1st usually know deep down that they should be healthier. Their repeatedly poor choices have kept this from happening, and they know it. This makes them feel guilty enough to make yet another empty promise to themselves (and perhaps their loved ones) that this time they really will change. They'll start eating healthy and exercising. Trouble is, guilt and fear are much better at jolting you into action for a short time than keeping you going for the long haul. Only positive motivation can do that. So instead of letting guilt propel you towards failure, find something healthy you enjoy doing and don't do enough, and do it more.
Not Really What You Want
I'll level with you – if you're making a new year's resolution at all, you have an excellent chance of failing. If you really wanted to change, you probably wouldn't wait until January 1st to start. You would have done it already. I'm not saying every new year's resolution will fail for this reason, but before you make one, you'd better do some serious thinking about what you really want. If you really want to lose weight, do it. Don't wait for a tradition of January based failure before you start. Make it happen right now, beginning with one small, positive change. Drink more water. Eat more veggies. Dust off the pair of rusty dumbbells in your garage. If you really want to change, you will. If not, don't fool yourself into make a half-hearted resolution that won't lead anywhere.