"Most people will passively do exactly what they did last year. Whatever you do, don't let that person be you." - Richie Norton
As we reach the end of January 2023, it’s a good time to reflect on whether we actually stuck to those New Year resolutions many of us set for ourselves back on January 1st.
Did you start getting in shape? Stick to a healthier eating plan? Establish a consistent workout routine?
Things were probably going so well in the first week, maybe even the second. Then you slipped up on one day, then another, and then you felt as though there was no point at all to keep going.
Why do your New Year resolutions rarely stick? And why does it result in you self-sabotaging your health and wellbeing as a result? Here are some of the reasons why most resolutions usually fail.
1. YOU ARE TRYING TO CHANGE TOO MUCH AT ONCE
The best way to achieve any sort of behaviour change is to introduce one new behaviour at a time until it becomes a habit. However, trying to completely overhaul something like your diet, lifestyle or exercise regime overnight will be difficult to maintain long-term. The reason for this is that we can experience a lot of resistance to drastic change. We are creatures of habit and we love our routines. You may notice that you just naturally eat the same things on rotation or that you naturally fall back into the same patterns in other areas of your life. As creatures of habit, we also do not like going through a lot of change in one go. This is why gradual change is much more effective at building sustainable habits.
2. YOU GET STUCK IN ALL-OR-NOTHING THINKING
Another reason that our January goals fail are because they are too rigid. Let's say that you want to improve your diet, so you decided to completely stop eating sugar or processed food. Then you go to your friend's house and she offers you some cake that she has just made. You eat some to be a good guest, but now you feel that you have "ruined it" and might as well give up. This is an example of all-or-nothing thinking. Your goals/rules are so strict and rigid that when you break the goal or rule, you end up giving up altogether. Therefore, it is much more helpful to build flexible goals that allow for you to have cake sometimes and to not feel the need to be really strict with what you are aiming for.
3. YOUR SHORT-TERM GOALS ARE NOT ALIGNED WITH YOUR LONG-TERM GOALS
Sometimes your vision for what you want for yourself short-term isn't aligned with what you really want for yourself long-term. For example, let's say set a goal to exercise for 1 hour every single day. This may sound great but it may also be impractical with the lifestyle that you currently lead. Exercising this much every day may mean, for example, not seeing friends in the evening, spending enough time with family or ever going to a work event. Your short-term goal is not aligned with what will work for you long-term.
4. YOU ARE TRYING TO CHANGE YOUR HABITS WITHOUT CHANGING YOUR MINDSET
This is one of the most important yet often overlooked reasons to consider. It’s typical for us to desire changing our behaviours and habits without working on changing our mindset. For example, you may force yourself to go and work out, even though you actually hate going to gym and really don't look forward to it. You are trying to force a behaviour without really changing how you think about that behaviour.
When I work with clients, shifting their mindset is the most powerful way to change their behaviours long-term. Once you shift your mindset to wanting to nourish your body, implementing habits like eating healthier food and moving your body more won’t feel like a chore. You just naturally engage in behaviours that are aligned with your positive mindset.
5. YOU HAVE NO FORM OF ACCOUNTABILITY
Having some sort of accountability can really help you to stay motivated to follow through with a goal that you have set yourself. If there is nobody cheering you along or nobody that you have to keep up with something for, it will be very easy to slip back into old habits. This is why ensuring that you have some support and accountability as you try to make changes in your life is essential.
6. YOU ARE TRYING TO CHANGE YOUR HABITS WITH THE SAME SELF-PERCEPTION
We will often live up to our own self-perception. If you see yourself as an over-eater, you are effectively giving yourself permission to over-eat. Alternatively, if you saw yourself as an athlete, you are likely to exercise and train even on days where you don't really feel like it. Our self-perception shapes our behaviours. Therefore, in order to change our behaviours long-term, we need to think of ourselves as someone who just naturally engages in the behaviours that we want to engage in.
Implementing your resolutions will take a lot more effort than just saying you're going to do it. For success to be reached and maintained in whatever you want to achieve regarding your health, it's essential to gradually build new habits and remain flexible. Make sure the goals you are setting for yourself now are aligned with what you want for yourself in the long-term and have some sort of accountability in place to keep you on track. Most importantly, put the work into changing your mindset and how you perceive yourself, then the habit changes will follow.
If your new year's resolutions are related to food, exercise or your lifestyle, Sculptrition can help you make shifts in your mindset so that your goals will be achieved and sustained in the long-term. Book a free consultation today.