After all the holly-jollying of the holidays, January 1st is always sure to bring a host of New Year’s resolutions. “I’m going to lose 20 pounds;” “I’m going to get a six-pack;” “I’m going to give up sugar …. or smoking … or soda.” Sound familiar? Those are great resolutions, but when I hear them, I hear the same thing: “I’m going to fail.”
Why the glum outlook? Because the big wigs at U.S. News and World Report estimate that 80 percent of resolutions fail. 80 percent! I’ve seen it over and over and over again. People start January 1st full of great intentions but succumb before Valentine’s Day because life and thousands of excuses got in the way. It’s sad and it’s frustrating. But it doesn’t have to be this way.
Resolutions aren’t doomed to fail – after all, a resolution is just a fancy word for a goal. And the best way to reach a goal is to set a plan. Let’s look at some of the common pitfalls that doom New Year’s resolutions so we can talk about strategies to avoid them or navigate through them. We can do this, people! 2020 is going to be the year you reach that goal!
To learn how to make effective resolutions, let’s break it down by looking at a sample resolution:
"I want to look like CrossFit's Fittest Man on Earth - Mat Fraser - by 2021."
If I had a nickel for every time someone told me their goal was to look like a certain person, I’d have my own tennis court and a room for my vintage Air Jordans. Here are several problems with this resolution.
- The goal is completely superficial and immeasurable. Focusing on a superficial goal – especially one that compares your body to a famous body – is never a good idea. Every body is built differently and will shape itself differently. Unless you’re a 5’7” professional CrossFit athlete with his exact genetic profile who has time to train six hours a day and is constantly vigilant about his diet, you’re not going to look like Mat Fraser.
Now, does this mean you can’t get lean and develop amazing muscle tone and get fit and healthy and look amazing? Absolutely not. But don’t go into a resolution with a specific superficial picture as your guiding goal.
Here’s a better goal with measurable success that can achieve the physical results desired in our original resolution:
“I would like to become a CrossFit athlete by regularly attending classes led by our amazing CrossFit certified RAC personal trainer Joe Jones by the start of 2021.
- First, I’ll meet with a personal trainer or physical therapist to see what I have to do to get my body healthy enough, strong enough, and mobile enough to start pushing myself in CrossFit style classes.
- Then, I will set strength and attendance goals as I become stronger and faster.”
Not only is this goal measurable, but it sets the stage to continue adding more goals as you reach them. Make 2020 the year of celebrating as you crush each goal along the way to a stronger, fitter you!
- The goal bites off more than we can chew (right off the bat!). Aiming high is admirable and picturing abs or biceps like Mat Fraser’s is a great motivator, but this transformation won’t happen in a month. Without a clear footpath of goals along the way, it’s easy to get discouraged and give up.
Working toward the same goal for an entire year without being able to cross off a victory along the way is a long time and I know would require way more discipline and will power than I have. Small, attainable goals give you a bite you can chew – something you can actually work toward and achieve and celebrate! And when you’ve reached that goal, you have another one already in place – leading you toward your big goal.
Here’s an example of a better goal that can set up smaller goals along the way:
“I want to lower my body fat percentage from 38 percent to 28 percent, increase my strength PRs by 10 percent, and be able to run two miles without stopping.”
Each of these are goals that lead toward the goal in our sample resolution. But all these goals can easily be broken down into specific plans with attainable goals.
Here is an example of a specific plan:
“I'm going to work with a dietitian to develop an easy-to-follow nutrition plan and start working with a personal trainer to develop a fitness regimen.
- My first goal is to follow the nutrition plan for five days without cheating and to workout according to my regimen at least three times a week for two weeks.
- Once this goal is achieved, I will celebrate and set new goals."
- Each time a measurable achievement milestone is hit, we can celebrate it along the way! Examples of some other measurable milestones could include: dropping a body fat percentage, running further without needing to stop, or achieving a new personal “best”.
- The goal-setter is treating a marathon like a sprint. For some reason, we all think weight loss and fitness should be a quick and easy process. But – despite claims from supplements and diet fads – it’s not. It’s a lifestyle change and requires a plan and willingness to see the plan through. You wouldn’t run a marathon without any training, don’t expect a body transformation without training either. Fitness and wellness goals take time but man it is worth it to have a happy and healthy body!
A better strategy would be to focus on establishing healthy habits. Goals like working toward strengthening your body through classes, working with a trainer, and focusing on making a healthy breakfast in the morning. Then try to stay away from unhealthy choices such as Ice cream (my all-time weakness!) when grocery shopping. These steps will help fuel your body to stay energized and give your metabolism a good jump start for the day!
- The goal doesn’t have the right mindset. A resolution that focuses simply on the superficial doesn’t get at the “why” behind your desire for transformation. Is there a deeper reason behind your desire to look a certain way? Do you want to gain confidence? Get healthy to be able to be there and participate with your family? Do you want to be able to be active like you were in your youth – or like you wished you were? What is the driving factor that will get you to the finish line?
You could express your “why” like this:
“I really want to participate in a CrossFit class so I can keep up with my kids and enjoy doing activities with my family. If I continue my unhealthy trend, it’ll make fun life experiences unenjoyable or I’ll have to sit and watch instead of participating.”
Once you’ve established your “why,” it will help you enjoy the process. This, hands down, is one of the biggest barriers for New Year’s resolutions. Would it be great to be healthy and fit? DUH! But if we don’t enjoy the process of getting there, we’ll never be able to sustain it.
Working toward a “why” that’s really important to you and finding a support system that is excited to help you get there, makes the work exciting and rewarding. Share your “why” when you’re comfortable – invite a friend to join you on your journey – surround yourself with people who champion you on your quest and you will feel triumphant and excited to work toward your goals. We’ve got this together!
- The goal doesn’t address barriers. This one is tricky because the hurdles are different for each person. You know yourself and your strengths and weaknesses better than anyone. Try and predict and plan for your barriers before you even start.
For many people, barriers can be lack of motivation, not keeping yourself accountable, money, time, poor planning, knowing where to start, or feeling self-conscious in the area needing improvement. I know a lot of you either do not love to exercise, don’t know where to start, or have some fitness anxieties. PLEASE do not be afraid to reach out to a fitness specialist and ask for some help to get started!
Here are some example barriers that may come up with our sample resolution and how you could plan to overcome them:
Barrier 1 – I don’t know where to start
Plan: “I’ll attend a free personal training session to see what’s available for me and learn some beneficial exercises.”
Barrier 2 – I don’t tend to commit to a plan or time
Plan: “I will go to the RIP class twice a week before work. I will only have to get up 30 minutes earlier and can get ready for work at the RAC.”
Who knew setting a New Year’s resolution would be so much work! I need to set a resolution just to set my resolution! But, in all honesty, there’s a reason the saying says that “A job well begun is a job half done.” If you take the time to purposefully set your resolutions and make a plan, I know you can do it!
Be patient. Changing a habit takes time and so does achieving a goal. That will make it all the sweeter when you follow through with it! 2020 is the year for fitness here at the RAC! Find a friend and hit the Fitness Floor and don’t be afraid to ask a trainer for help. Let’s achieve some amazing things together!
Sidney grew up in Saint Peter, Minnesota and moved to Rochester in 2019. She received her undergraduate degree from Gustavus Adolphus College where she also played on the women’s tennis team. After graduating Gustavus she received her master’s degree at Minnesota State University, Mankato. In her spare time, she enjoys working on her sister’s organic farm.
Contact Sidney Elofson