10 Reasons Why Your New Year’s Health Resolutions Fail (& How to Fix It)
Every year we go through the same cycle – We set an extensive list of goals for ourselves (most of them health resolutions), get excited for a few weeks then everything comes crashing less than a month into the new year.
Even with the best of intentions it feels like a vicious cycle no one can ever seem to break.
Well not exactly everyone but statistics show 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
The top 3 resolutions on everyone’s list? – Proper diet, exercise and weight loss.
Take a look at that list and they’re all excellent resolutions in their own right but someway somehow we still end up abandoning most – if not all of them.
Well let’s take a look at the top 10 reasons why all these health resolutions fail and most importantly what you can do to keep yourself from failing as well.
(Worthy read: Does The Average American Have A Healthy Diet?)
1 – Vague & Unrealistic Goals
One of 2 things happen when most people set their new year’s resolutions.
They either come up with a list that’s too broad (vague) or create an extensive list of items they want to checkoff (unrealistic).
Add on the fact that we almost always set even higher expectations for ourselves right out the gate.
Since I’ve written quite a bit about meal prep, I’m going to use that an example here.
We may say something like
– “I want to start meal prepping this year.” (Ummm, okay)
– “I’m going to start prepping all my work lunches for the week well ahead of time.”
I think we can both agree the first one is just way too vague and nonspecific.
The second one is actually a little better but if you weren’t meal prepping before how do you validate the fact that you’re now going to instantly make it a part of your daily routine.
Life doesn’t just work that way.
2 – No Specific Purpose
Everybody understands the importance of being healthy and living a healthier lifestyle.
Very few people take the time to understand why they need to do it.
All the generic reasons such as living longer, being happy and so on are NOT applicable to everyone.
The only meaningful purpose is the one that matters you.
Which means doing it for a particular reason that will make you truly satisfied at the end.
The problem isn’t knowing what to do, it’s understanding why you need to do it.
If you don’t have a strong WHY then you’re bound to fail a lot sooner.
3 – Wrong Reasons
Speaking of purpose…
We all know the beginning of the year is primetime for all the latest diet or health trends.
You see all the new diets popping up, new fitness regimens, new meal plans and so many other routines which sell you on glamorous results and high expectations.
None of those things are necessarily bad unless you’re part of the herd mentality meaning you’re doing it just because everyone else is.
You know how following the crowd typically ends up.
Even worse than following the crowd is guilt or regret – the feeling that we should be doing something at this particular point in our lives but haven’t been able to do so yet.
Granted it is an ugly feeling but that alone shouldn’t be the reason why you decide to commit to any new health resolutions.
Feeling guilty is never a good starting point.
4 – Failing to Understand Your Current Situation
The transition from December 31st to January 1st doesn’t automatically make you a new person or eliminate all the things in your current situation.
Okay, that’s a little bit too dramatic but I think you get the point.
Before you take on a new challenge or new goals you need to be well aware of the things you’re dealing with and see how they fit into your future plans.
Lack of awareness often leads to stress and overwhelm which results in you quitting.
5 – Waiting for The “Perfect” Moment
There’s no such thing as perfect timing. If you keep waiting for it you’ll wait forever.
One of the most common occurrences with our new year’s health resolutions is we set them then begin to find excuses why we can’t get started right away.
We let everything pile up and once it becomes too much the next step is trying to justify why we didn’t even get started in the first place.
I’m sure you’ve heard this before, “Procrastination is the thief of time.”
We often want to wait for more time, more money, or better education instead of taking advantage of whatever resources we currently have available.
The more time you spend just thinking about it the less time you’re actually implementing anything.
If you don’t break out of the cycle well you’ll never get anything accomplished.
6 – Lack of Accountability
Many people fail to acknowledge the fact that they need to be held accountable by someone other than themselves.
It’s this idea that whatever the case may be we can get through it on our own.
Self accountability is great but if you weren’t able to do it before what makes you believe you’ll do it now?
Relying on willpower alone is an incredibly tough task if you lack the discipline.
Take a look at the following scenarios and see which one you think is easier?
Finding time in your busy schedule to go to the gym by yourself OR joining a motivated fitness group with people who exercise regularly.
I’d say the latter.
The whole point of accountability is to make things easier on yourself and avoid some of those unproductive habits.
7 – Unwillingness to Learn
I don’t think this point needs too much explanation.
If you take on something new and choose not to educate yourself properly how far do you think you’ll get.
You can go through the motions but that means being satisfied with whatever results you get.
Don’t limit yourself just because you’re unwilling to take advice from others or learn about different tools or systems you can have in place to make you better.
Learning is an ongoing process. You don’t need to know everything before you get started. (see #5)
8 – No Proper Preparation
Coming up with a list of things we’d like to get done isn’t the tough part.
The problem is what happens when life gets in the way and things don’t go as planned?
As much as we’d love for things to always go as planned, how many times does that really happen?
If you don’t prepare yourself for the unforeseen circumstances you’re more likely to quit because you feel like it wasn’t meant to be.
Nobody is perfect and mistakes do happen but if you don’t prepare yourself for those moments you’ll continue to treat everything as a failure.
9 – Impatience
The current society we live in is one of impatience and instant gratification.
We have this feeling that we should be able to get everything we want or need right this moment.
It eventually leads to us putting too much pressure on ourselves and setting unrealistic expectations.
Building new habits requires effort and patience.
Contrary to the 21 day rule, science shows it actually takes 66 days to form a new habit and that depends on how determined you are to see it through and how complicated the skill is.
Different resolutions might obviously take even longer than that.
So if you don’t allow yourself enough time to develop a new routine or new habits how do you think you’re going to succeed?
If you’re serious about building small lasting habits and better systems that will help you achieve all of your goals then I recommend you get the following book:
Atomic Habits by James Clear.
It’s packed with simple actionable tips, different methods to keep track of everything and ultimately how to continue to build on all the things that are getting you positive results.
10 – Failing to Start
This basically sums up all the previous 9 points.
If you asked me to summarize this post in 2 words I’d tell you – Just Start!
It is a repetitive point but it is extremely important because nothing else even matters if you don’t take that first step.
Fact is you won’t know how much you’re potentially capable of if you don’t get started in the first place.
How To Stick To Your New Year’s Health Resolutions
The best way to fix the issue most people face with their new year’s health resolutions is to Think S.M.A.R.T.
S.M.A.R.T stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound goals.
It’s a term that gets used quite often in different business and entrepreneurial circles but applies very much so to personal development.
How does it work?
Here’s a breakdown for the acronym
– Specific: What exactly are you trying to accomplish? You really need to try to flesh out as many details as you’re able to for this step.
You need to answer the who, what, when, where and why (very important).
– Measurable: How are you going to keep track of your progress? You obviously need to be able to tell if things are going well or if you need to make any adjustments.
– Achievable: Be realistic about the goals you’re setting for yourself. It’s better to start with baby steps then scale than to try to go all in at once.
– Relevant: This step is about the benefits of what you’re trying to accomplish. How does it matter to you and what are the long term positive outcomes of being able to do it all?
– Time-Bound: If you’re setting goals without a specific timeline then you’ll never get anything done. Be clear about the dates you choose and even set smaller time frames in between if you need to.
The SMART process works because it allows you to break down your goals (health resolutions in this case) into smaller chunks, work on tasks that are realistic and focus on habits that will increase your chances of being successful.
The bigger benefit is it allows you to actually enjoy the process.
Every time you can complete a smaller task it does bring some satisfaction, the desire to keep going and being that much closer to reaching your goals.
Let’s say your goal was to lose 10 pounds.
If you broke that down into 2 pound increments don’t you think that’ll be a lot easier than focusing just on the entire 10 pounds alone?
My suggestion is focus on the smaller steps because they’ll eventually add up. All those little things matter.
I’ll end this post with an excellent quote courtesy of 23andme – “Health doesn’t begin and end with a resolution. (Better) Health starts now.”
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What are the Top 5 New Year’s Resolutions?
Research shows more than 60 percent of us make New Year’s resolutions but more than 80 percent quit by the end of February.
The top 5 New Year’s resolutions are: Eating healthier, Exercising more, Losing weight, Saving money and Learning a new skill or habit.
What percent of New Year’s resolutions are health related?
Roughly 55% of all New Year’s resolutions are health-related.
It is common tradition to make new year’s resolutions at the end of the year and although a huge percentage are health-related, less than 8% of the population actually achieve all their goals.
How long do most New Years resolutions last?
January 17th is often referred to as Ditch New Year’s Resolution Day, a day when most people give up on their new year’s resolutions – if they haven’t already done so.
On average, most New Year’s resolutions only last till about the end of February.
How do you keep your New Year’s resolutions?
Here are 10 excellent tips to help you stick to your new year’s health resolutions:
1- Avoid creating extensive lists.
2- Start small.
3- Learn from others who’ve been successful.
4 – Be patient.
5 – Get Accountability.
6 – Be realistic.
7 – Reward yourself.
8 – Plan accordingly.
9 – Don’t give up.
10 – Think S.M.A.R.T