Is it just me, or does there seem to be so much hype around New Year’s Eve celebrations that inevitably fall flat on their face? There is such an expectation to attend an amazing event and have a fantastic time that the night turns out to be far less enjoyable than what we expected.
On any other day of the year, doing anything that you plan to do on New Year’s would be really fun, but the pressure put on New Years that makes it not so fun. The constant ‘what are you doing for New Years’ and now the ‘comparison-it is’ of social media leaves people feeling as deflated as a leftover party balloon or just opting out of celebrations altogether.
New Year’s resolutions are so last year
Unfortunately, we experience the same thing with our New Year Resolutions. The new year is a great period of new beginnings and fresh starts that inspires people to try something new or to make some changes, but it is how we go about it that is the big problem.
Many of us envision dramatic and over the top changes or results that, just like with New Year’s Eve, only set you up for disappointment. Expecting huge changes without thought as to how you will actually get there and not considering the work that is actually required to get to your goal are some of the best ways to have your resolutions chucked in the bin by the end of January.
Why do your New Year’s Resolutions fail?
First off, there is no magical wand that instantly changes people into disciplined and motivated humans on New Year’s Eve. You are still the same person that you were the day before, and you won’t all of a sudden possess the ability to wake up for a 5am gym session every day when usually you can barely make it to work on time.
Setting unrealistic goals not only stops you from achieving them but is also a big motivation killer. Same deal with a lack of planning and having an undefined goal; if you have a goal but no idea of what it looks like or the actions you need to take to get there, you’re not going to win. Just like a road map, we need directions on how to get to our goal, with actionable steps and pit stops to make sure you are still on track.
Make sure you know what you actually want to achieve
Many New Year’s resolutions can be pretty vague and a bit difficult to define. A goal to ‘just be happier’, looks very different to different people and is also pretty ambiguous. It is not specific enough for you to even know when you have reached your goal or even if you have made positive changes towards it. Getting down to the nitty gritty may seem like a lot of work, but it helps a lot.
When you are considering your goals, keep asking ‘what does that look like to me’ so that you can have an idea about what you need to do to achieve this goal. Breaking down a goal of ‘being happier’ could mean that you want to spend more time connecting with loved ones, so you aim to spend more time with family; perhaps this means having a weekly family night to connect with each other.
Keeping you on track
This is one of the biggest reasons why New Year’s resolutions don’t stick; people get out of the honeymoon phase and lose motivation. They can’t see what impact their efforts are having and begin to think ‘why bother’ or give up entirely, which is why ensuring you are able to see your progress is a huge one. Tracking your progress not only lets you know if you are on the right path to your goal, but it also shows you that the actions you are taking are getting results!
Not seeing results can really undermine your goals; so it’s important to figure out a way to measure and track your results to see what you are doing well (or not so well). Let’s say your New Year’s resolution is to run 5km, but you don’t keep track of how far or how often you run. How would you know if you were improving? You don’t want to realise a couple of months down the track that some of the actions you have been taking haven’t helped at all!
Measuring yourself gives you motivation and accountability, but it also allows you to work backwards to identify what ISN’T working for you. Figuring out why you’re not making progress and then changing that behaviour can put you back on track towards your goals. Remember, doing the same thing and expecting different results is the definition of insanity; you just need to identify what you need to change and implement those changes into your routine.
Trying to change all the things, all at the same time
Another issue with New Year’s resolutions is that people expect waaaaaaay too much over a short period of time. They want to start going to the gym at 5am every morning, eat brown rice and chicken for dinner every night, spend more time with friends and family, get a promotion at work……they pile it all on at once.
One change is hard enough for your brain to handle, so trying to make all these changes at once overloads the decision-making part of your brain, making it harder for you to stick to your goals (so by the end of Jan you are just paying for a gym membership that you don’t even use). Implementing a new habit or routine takes discipline and motivation as you are constantly presented with decisions to make; go to the gym or stay at home? Pizza for dinner or a healthy stir-fry?
Choosing the option that aligns with your goals (which is usually the harder option) requires discipline in your decision making which, just like a muscle, fatigues over time in a process called ‘decision fatigue’. Your ‘discipline’ muscle needs to be built up and if you overload it with decisions to make, it will crumble. Just like you wouldn’t dream of lifting 100kgs at the gym on your first day, you shouldn’t overwhelm your brain with too many changes at once – that is just setting yourself up for failure.
Make it easy for yourself
Try and implement one change that will lead you towards your goal and make it easy for yourself! When we have clients beginning to implement stretching and strengthening exercises into their daily routines, we encourage them to start off doing what they can. If it’s not achievable to do all the exercises at once, then we get them to choose 1 or 2, or maybe do one a day until they can add more.
You also want to give yourself the win; if working towards your goal is a constant hard slog or it just seems like too hard work all the time then you won’t be very keen to do it. But, if you have some wins then you might start thinking ‘hey, I can actually do this’ and be inspires to keep going.
So instead of over-hyped and unachievable New Year’s resolutions, join us in getting in making sustainable changes in your every-day life. Keep working towards those goals; make sure you know exactly what you are working towards, what you need to do to get there, and can see how you are tracking to ensure that you can really reach those goals and make some positive changes this New Year!