A new year brings a fresh start, which is why over 40% of Americans will make New Year’s resolutions. But despite all their good intentions, only 8% will keep their resolutions. Here’s why those resolutions fail, and how to make better goals that you can actually achieve.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
Why do so many people abandon their New Year’s resolutions? Most often it’s because the goal is too broad, too vague, and not realistic. Do you want to lose weight? Eat healthier? That’s great, but those aren’t good goals. How are you going to lose weight? How much? By when? What does “healthier” mean to you? Most New Year’s resolutions fail because they are not specific enough and because they entail an unrealistic total life overhaul.
How To Make Resolutions That Will Succeed
Small, gradual changes are the key to sustainable resolutions. So if you want to start working out more, and you are currently not exercising at all, start with a goal of going to the gym two or three times per week. Then steadily increase that month over month. Try to set small, attainable goals throughout the year, rather than one big, overwhelming goal.
Looking for some resolution inspiration? Here are six New Year’s resolutions to make this year.
- Stop Dieting. I’ve written a lot about “diet” being a four-letter word. Dieting is not sustainable. It’s not a way of life, or something that you can do forever. So this year, get rid of the dieting Instead, learn to eat in moderation. Figure out what moderation means to you, using the 80/20 rule to apply it to your daily food habits. Then be flexible with it, and with yourself – because flexibility is the key to maintaining a healthy relationship with food and a balanced diet.
- Eat Mindfully. A simple way to moderate how much food you eat? Mindful eating. By being conscious about what you are eating, and why, you get back in touch with the experience of eating and enjoying your food. The goal is to base your meals and food choices around physical cues of hunger, instead of emotional triggers like boredom or stress.
- Incorporate Strength Training. Ditch your goal to “work out more”, and instead focus on adding a full body strength training workout once or twice per week. Many people neglect to weight train, especially women, but it is one of the most beneficial workouts you can do. Strength training helps to build muscle and boost metabolism. As we age, we lose a little bit of muscle every single year. Strength training can blunt this effect, and help keep our bodies in shape and our metabolism running high.
- Treat Yourself to 5 Minutes a Day. Feeling stressed, anxious and overwhelmed? Make it a habit to treat yourself to five minutes of relaxation a day. This could be a walk around the block at lunchtime, a quick meditation on the train to work, or a few minutes of deep breathing at your desk. Make it a point to take at least five minutes for yourself every day, even if you have to set a reminder or schedule it into your calendar. Even just a few minutes can help to lower stress hormones and feel more relaxed.
- Get At Least 7 Hours of Sleep. Seven hours may seem like a lot, but it’s actually a minimum: the National Sleep Foundation say adults should get seven to nine hours of sleep every night. And no, catching up on weekends does not count. In order to make that seven hours a reality, start by having a bedtime routine. Try to get to bed around the same time every night. Shut down electronics at least 30 minutes before bedtime, as that screen glow can cause your brain to keep firing. Brew a pot of tea, read a book, or try one of these foods to help you sleep.
- Stop Comparing Yourself to Others. With social media, we now have a near-constant view into other people’s lives. We are bombarded with photos of thin, perfectly dressed people posing with their perfect families, traveling on their perfect vacations, and eating at that perfect restaurant. It is all too easy to compare yourself to these people and wish for their “perfect” lives. But the truth is…it’s not real. That perfect breakfast photo took someone an hour to set up and take (and their kid is probably screaming in the background). Instead of comparing yourself, focus on what you have that makes you happy. Accept that everyone is different, and work on being content with yourself, doing what makes you happy.
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