Are Your Resolutions Destined to Fail?
I find New Year’s resolutions to be a polarizing topic. Some people I know enthusiastically set resolutions every year, while other people I know think setting resolutions is a total waste of time. I have to admit, I probably fall in the former group; I love setting resolutions and goals for the coming year. However, I get why people aren’t crazy about resolutions and think it’s a waste of time. Research suggests only 8% of people actually achieve their resolutions. So, if there’s a 92% chance you’re going to fail… it’s no wonder so many people think setting resolutions are dumb.
But I don’t think the problem is with setting resolutions or wanting to change. I think the problem is we’re picking crappy resolutions.
The 1# Resolution is Weight Loss
Let’s talk about weight loss resolutions, shall we? Supposedly, 40% of all resolutions are related to weight loss. Honestly, probably every year since I was a pre-teen I’ve had some kind of weight loss resolution. I don’t think I have ever achieved a single one. I think I’m finally starting to understand why.
First of all, a lot of my goals weren’t achievable. I don’t mean they were too hard. I’ve set hard resolutions before and totally achieved them. I set a resolution to train for a half-marathon when I couldn’t even run one mile without walking, and I ended up achieving that. It was hard, but it was achievable. My body goals have never been achievable, because, I’m realizing, my goal has been to change who I am.
Can we all agree that if I set a resolution to look exactly like Jessica Biel it’s a stupid resolution? She’s a beautiful woman, but she’s a different person than me. As much as I might try, I will never look exactly like her. Even if I got super crazy and paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for plastic surgery to make me look more like her, I would probably just end up looking like a fun house mirror version of Jessica Biel.
This example of a bad resolution seems obvious and totally ridiculous, but people make similar resolutions all the time. “I’m going to get abs like _____” or “I’m going to get shredded like ___” is essentially doing the same thing. You’re holding yourself to the standard of another person. You’re not taking into consideration different resources you may not have (personal trainer, flexible schedule, personal chef) as well as your genes and unique body.
Is Your Resolution Based on Comparisons?
I think if we’re really honest with ourselves, a lot of weight loss or fitness goals are based on comparison. Some are obvious comparisons like saying, “I want to be able to squat as much as (insert some fitspo instagram star). Others may not outwardly seem like comparisons, such as “I want to lose weight.” But you might have in your head what you want to look like after that weight loss, and I’m guessing that it’s probably inspired by what another person looks like (or a combination of several people).
So, if you’re setting a weight loss goal like that, you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. Likewise, if you are setting a goal to lose 50lbs in one year because the contestants on the Biggest Loser lose that amount of weight in just a month or two, you’re setting yourself up for failure. Healthy, sustainable weight loss take a long time, and what’s a reasonable amount of weight to lose over the course of a year varies from person to person. Personally, I think you’re better off setting resolutions to make the habit changes that will lead to weight loss than picking an arbitrary number you want to see on the scale.
Is it the Right Resolution for You?
My other beef with weight loss goals is a lot of people don’t need them. There are a lot of people (ahem, myself included) that are at a perfectly healthy weight for their body but still set weight loss goals. Why? Because we’re unhappy with our bodies, and we think that can be solved by losing weight. At that point, maybe our goals shouldn’t revolve around trying to change our bodies but changing our mindset.
This year I’m challenging myself to replace my usual weight loss goals with resolutions to pursue more confidence and better body acceptance. I’m still setting fitness-related goals too, but they’re focused on making me stronger, building my endurance, and continuing to strive towards the healthiest version of myself.
Making SMART Resolutions
Lastly, whatever resolutions you decide to set this year, plan them out. Maybe that means you actually hammer out and get started on your resolutions on January 14th instead of January 1st. That’s fine – resolutions don’t have to only happen on the 1st!
I like to set resolutions the way I set quarterly goals for work. I do this not only because I’m a nerd but also because it forces me to really put thought into how I will achieve my resolutions. So, for my resolutions, I use the SMART goal criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, & time-related. This helps me break up my resolution into steps and reminds me not to set anything too grandiose or vague.
Going back to my half-marathon example, I didn’t just set a resolution to run a half-marathon. I researched and picked out a training plan I’d follow and then set mini-goals to complete as I trained, such as completing my first 5k. Breaking up a big resolution into small goals paced throughout the year can make it a lot more achievable.
So, go forth! Fight the odds and set your resolutions!