You’ve likely heard that New Year’s resolutions tend to have a pretty low success rate, right? In fact, it’s estimated that most peoples’ resolutions fall by the wayside a mere six weeks after setting them. Yep, that’s right about now on the calendar! As Dietitians, we at Verde Nutrition Co support people year-round to achieve their health and wellness goals, and there are some common themes that we see occurring when, despite someone’s best intentions, they just don’t seem to be sticking! Let’s have a look…
1. Unrealistic resolutions. Resolutions usually require us to implement some sort of change. Action is required, and we anticipate that this may feel challenging at times. There is, however, a difference between challenging and unrealistic. Consider a resolution that has seemingly ‘failed’ for you previously. Did you actually have the ability and/or resources to pursue that challenge day after day, week after week, or month after month? Dream and strive big, BUT also acknowledge any barriers that may prevent you from consistently implementing your desired resolution. Barriers could include things like time, work commitments, children-related commitments, finances, location, or knowledge, for example.
Some of these potential barriers will be changeable. If they are, acknowledge them and change them. If they’re not, how can we make that goal more realistic? Consider, is it realistic to expect yourself to drive to that trendy fitness studio five times per week when it’s an hour’s drive there and back every morning before work, and you’re racking up a hefty petrol bill that leaves you feeling stressed? Would it be more realistic to go there once or twice per week instead, or find a studio closer to home? Make your resolution something that you CAN achieve, and without compromising the overall quality of your life.
2. Lack of clarity. Goals are hard to achieve when they’re fluffy. The goals that are most often achieved are the ones that are crystal clear. Break your resolutions down into what, where, how and why. Rather than ‘I am going to drink more water during the week’, add some detail such as ‘I am going to drink two litres of water Monday to Friday by keeping a one litre water bottle on my work desk, and drinking one litre before my lunch break and another litre before I leave at 5pm, because I know being hydrated will improve my sleep, focus, and physical health, and that is important to me’. As they say, proper preparation prevents poor performance!
3. Low visibility. This one might seem basic but it’s a game changer. And that is: keep your goals in sight. We’re human; we get busy, we get tired, other things pop up. If you keep your goals visible you are less likely to forget about them. Trial what works for you, for example:
- set a daily reminder on your phone
- write on your bathroom mirror
- stick a post-it-note on your fridge
- write them on a piece of paper and use it as your bookmark.
- write them out at the top of the page each week in your diary
- stick them on your car visor
- put them in your wallet.
Keep your goals front of mind by keeping them visible.
4. Make them a habit. Have you heard of habit stacking? Habit stacking is pairing your new desired action (i.e. your resolution) with an already existing habit that is well-established in your routine. When actions become automatic or second nature, they’re more likely to be done consistently. Motivation is temporary and it can fluctuate daily (or even hourly). By making something a habit we aren’t relying so much on motivation. Attaching your new habit to an established one helps to make this process easier. What existing habit will you attach your resolution to? Here are some ideas:
- When you sit up in bed each morning, drink a glass of water.
- While you wait for the kettle to boil, perform 10 push ups or squats
- When you walk in the door after returning home from work, change straight into your workout clothes before anything else.
- When you hop in bed at night, immediately write down or say out loud two things you’re grateful for.
It really is the simple, small details that can help or hinder your ‘success’ when it comes to sticking with resolutions. If this resonates, pull out your goals list that you made for yourself this January and take a couple minutes to reflect – have you set yourself up to achieve what you want to do? Or do you need to reassess, or make some tweaks, or add some detail? Everyone is capable. We just need to work with our brains and biology, not against it. Now get out there and smash it!