Here’s Why I Still Like New Years Resolutions
It’s true. I do. I still set a series of new years resolutions every year.
With 11 years working as a personal trainer, I’ve seen plenty of new years resolutions made and broken, so I’ve learnt a few things around how to make them more successful.
New years resolutions have become increasingly mocked. I get why – hardly anyone keeps them etc etc, but is it such a bad thing to state a desire to improve?
I realise you don’t have to wait until January 1st to make a change, but the start of a new year is as good a time as any. It’s a psychological ‘clean slate’ in my eyes. A figurative ground zero on which you can build the foundations of a new set of behaviours.
For me, it’s even more than that. Where I live (UK), January is a period of low temperatures, short days and long nights, but that changes.
As we move away from January the 1st, the days gradually become longer. Winter turns into spring and eventually into summer. The temperature rises and the mood improves. We feel more desire to be active.
Winter through to summer is a metaphor for a new behaviour. It grows and blossoms, then you see the rewards that your improved habits bring about, be it better health, improved fitness, more money, more energy, more sleep, better moods etc.
Setting New Years Resolutions You Can Stick To
As a personal trainer, I work in behaviour change and accountability. I know exactly why people don’t stick to their resolutions. It’s not just about laziness, contrary to popular thinking. It’s more down to a lack of clear thinking around the goals they set.
Here’s a quick guide to setting better new years resolutions…
1. Set realistic resolutions.
If you aren’t a habitual exerciser, telling yourself you will go to the gym 5 times per week is stupid. You won’t do it. That kind of change is just too dramatic for most people to manage off the bat.
Instead, make a promise that you’ll go to the gym once or twice per week. That’s far more manageable. Once you have established that routine, you can always add more sessions to your week.
2. Introduce accountability.
Some of us are entirely self motivating. Most of us (myself included) aren’t. We need a bigger why, or a person to be accountable to.
I have those I’m accountable to – my family and my clients.
I don’t want to be a fat Dad, unable to play with my kids. Nor do I want to let myself go and pile on a load of weight, only for my girlfriend to be put off by my new impressive gut.
Then there’s my clients. As a personal trainer, there’s an expectation that I’m exercising myself – who will come to me for fitness advice if I’m not practicing what I preach?
Have someone you’re accountable to – whether it’s a personal trainer, a friend, a colleague or whoever.
3. Enjoy a reward for a goal achieved.
We all like rewards, so incorporate that into a your resolutions. An example could be “if I lose 20lbs this year I’ll treat myself to a new pair of jeans” or something like that. I did it myself this year – I wanted to buy myself some new weight lifting kit, so made sure I was only allowed to buy it if I managed 30 training sessions in June and July.
This needs an element of discipline, so maybe bring in an accountability partner to help you with it!
4. Make it part of a bigger plan.
If you don’t naturally take to something, make it part of a bigger plan which forces you to stick with it. I’ll give you an example from a few years ago…
I’m not a huge fan of running, but I see its benefit in a wider fitness setting. With this in mind, I agreed to do the Wilmslow Half Marathon with a friend. Not being a natural cardio bunny, I knew I couldn’t just turn up on the day and wing it – I’d have to put the work in.
Having that bigger goal made me drag my unenthusiastic arse around the roads during one of the coldest winters in UK history (2009-2010). It worked for me – maybe it’ll work for you too.
5. Have a plan of action.
Too many people don’t think about their resolutions – they just blindly state a wish and but have no plan or roadmap to help them achieve it.
You’re far more likely to set better resolutions if you go into the challenge with a semblance of understanding about what you’re trying to achieve. If your goal is to lose 40lbs but you don’t know anything about exercise or nutrition, you’ll need to outsource your planning to a professional.
Likewise, if your goal is to lose 40lbs and you do understand exercise and nutrition principles, you’ll need a plan to ensure you can actually do what you need to do in order to lose the weight – that may be set aside time to exercise and prepare healthy meals. If you can’t prepare the healthy meals, maybe hire a food prep service to bring them to your door.
Just have a plan.
New Years Resolutions in line with a theme
You can do as I do which is set your new years resolutions in line with a wider theme.
Since 2013 I’ve had a theme for the year, where my resolutions reflect my wider aims for the following 12 months. I still keep individual resolutions, but I’ll also consider a year a success if my actions help me achieve my wider aim for the year.
If you aren’t good with individual targets, you can set an agenda for the year and make your actions collectively help you achieve your aim.
Here’s a snapshot of previous themed years…
2013 – Finance. Buying a house was on the agenda. I wanted to get a grip of my money.
2014 – Learning. I wanted to learn new skills such as carpentry, brick laying, patio laying etc.
2015 – Simplicity. Have a quieter diary, more time with family and friends. Less weekends full of ‘stuff’.
2016 – Growth. Personal challenges – Tough Mudder, Fit for Life Retreat, join the Weight Lifting Club.
2017 – Development. I want to develop an online fitness business and develop my house further.
Under these headings, there’ll be various sub-goals…
I want to perform a 90kg Snatch and a 105kg Clean and Jerk this year
I want to build a large shed from scratch and have my garage converted into a new room.
I want to build an online fitness business, helping people with their fitness goals online.
In 12 months I’ll look back and see how I’ve done!
I hope you do the same.
Give your new years resolutions some thought. An idly-made new years resolution is unlikely to be successful due to the lack of understanding and planning to make it a reality.
Make it part of a bigger ‘why’ and it’ll be far more achievable.
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