5 New Year’s Resolutions You Should Not Make
You’ve been hit with a salvo of New Year’s resolution-related material over the past month, trying to determine how to effectively devise a strong plan for the coming year. It’s almost a routine, at this point. Because every year, without fail, you seem to come up short of your goals. There are a lot of reasons for that — and you find comfort in the fact that you’re not alone in giving up so easily.
But consider this: Perhaps another aspect of your resolution that’s keeping you from success is the framing of the resolution itself. That is, maybe certain resolutions are destined for failure, because they are inherently flawed.
For example, what’s wrong with telling yourself that you “want to be healthier this year”? There’s certainly nothing wrong with it on the surface, and it’s an admirable goal — but we’ll get to the fatal flaw in a minute. There are others just like this. “I want to lose 50 pounds.” “No more fast food for me after January 1.”
Again, these are great goals. But the way you’re framing them is almost assuring failure. We’ll get into why on the next few pages. The fact of the matter is that there are some resolutions you shouldn’t make because they’re simply setting you up for failure.
Here are five of them.
1. “I’m starting the X diet.”
Well, if you don’t know by now, here’s the hard truth: Diets usually don’t work. In fact, if you’re a man, there are some that you should definitely avoid. Going on a diet, especially a fad diet, is a good way to set yourself up for failure, and you should really just avoid it.
What should you do instead? Completely overhaul your eating habits. The problem with diets is that they have built-in expiration dates. At some point, you revert back to your old, unhealthy habits. Instead of that, just change what and how you eat. That’s what’s going to get your results, and with small, incremental changes over time, you’ll barely notice.
2. “I want to lose X pounds this year.”
This is a classic case of snowballing negativity. Say you want to lose 50 pounds this year. That’s great, but it’s going to take some huge changes to your lifestyle — including complete revamps to your diet and exercise routines. But here’s the thing: It takes a long time to see progress, and when you see that you’ve only dropped 5 or 10 pounds after a month of really struggling, you’re going to be discouraged. And give up.
Instead, re-frame your thinking. Don’t have a huge goal, like losing 50 pounds in a year — that can be in the back of your mind, but instead, focus on the short-term. “I’ll lose one pound per week,” or “I’ll get through all my workouts this week.” That’s more manageable, and you’ll be able to keep your momentum going.
3. “I’m quitting everything, cold turkey.”
Want to see your resolution fall flat on its face? Try giving up all of your vices, all at once. That may mean fast food, junk food, soda, cigarettes, alcohol, etc. Stopping cold turkey works for some people, but the majority of us need to wean ourselves away from things. Stopping dead in our tracks is difficult and, for a good number of people, means that we’ll revert back to our habits. Instead, take a long-term approach. It’s a journey, not a sprint.
4. “I’ll be in the gym, everyday, at 6 o’clock.”
The problem here is that you’re being too strict and rigid with yourself. Life happens, and that means you’re not always going to be able to stick to your goal. When you can’t stick to it, you begin to make excuses — excuses for why you can’t be where you said you’d be, when you said you’d be there. Instead, loosen things up a bit.
Instead of promising to be at the gym every day, or at a certain time, aim for a certain number of times per week. That way, you have more leeway in your mind as to hitting your targeted number of workouts. You can do the same with your diet, or anything else, really. Don’t make a resolution that is too rigid or strict.
5. “I want to lose weight.”
Previously, we mentioned that saying you “want to be healthier this year” was inherently flawed. Why is that, now? Because it’s so broad that it’s essentially meaningless. The same goes for “I’m going to lose weight,” or “I”m going to eat better.” They’re good aspirations to have, but so flimsy that you won’t stick to them. If you eat one less pizza than last year, you hit your goal, right?
Frame your resolution with real, tangible goalposts so that you can measure your progress. Use numbers (“I want to lose 5 pounds this month”). Have a real diet plan. Don’t set yourself up for failure (as some people do knowingly) by having a BS resolution. If you want to improve yourself, think about it, and set some realistic goals.
Follow Sam on Twitter @Sliceofginger