The Problem with New Year’s Resolutions

There is something special about beginning a new year. It feels fresh. A perfect time to make lifestyle overhauls. Like a brand-new start. An opportunity for change. It’s permission to make strides toward something that maybe you wouldn’t otherwise feel motivated to tackle.

And that’s typically what happens, right? We decide that we are going to go “all in” on ALL of the things that we want to change about our current lifestyles or situations. Instead of tackling one thing we try to tackle a million. Setting such high expectations of ourselves, we need everything to be perfect in order for it to be a success. And then we beat ourselves up over not achieving the impossible new standards we have set for ourselves.

And that’s where things start to go wrong.

I’m going to list 4 reasons that I think people fail when it comes to setting New Year’s resolutions, and what can be done instead to make sure that this is the year that they truly do hit their goals.

  1. Doing Too Much Too Soon. If you have gone any length of time without working out, there is a good chance that you will set a new goal to begin an exercise routine and you will jump all in. The expectation becomes that you will be in the gym 5 days per week right out of the gate. The problem with this is that if you have taken any sort of time off from working out, 5 days a week is a lot to jump back into. Being an impossible standard to uphold, most people can’t maintain that level of exertion for very long before burning out. If you want to set a goal to get back into the gym, I would recommend starting with 2-3 days per week. This is less of a commitment initially and it allows your body the necessary time between workouts to rest, recoup, and rebuild, bringing you back stronger each time you return to the gym.
  2. Doing Too Many Hard Workouts. People can get hung up on the idea that each workout needs to be tough and exhausting in order to be considered an effective workout. The problem with doing too many hard workouts back to back is that your body doesn’t have the necessary time to recover, which means eventually you won’t be able to maintain that level of exertion and your results will hit a plateau.  It is important that you mix in easy days with your tough days. So, whether you’ve joined some fitness classes or you’re working with a trainer, make sure that you follow your tough days with some easier exercise days to allow your body time to recover.
  3. Having High Expectations. As I mentioned earlier, it is easy to get caught up in setting new goals at the beginning of the year. But most of the time these goals can be unrealistic and require a lot of time, effort, and energy in order to be successful. And what results from having such high expectations of yourself is that when you miss a workout or your meal planning failed for the week you end up beating yourself up and thinking that you have failed. This leads to more skipped workouts and ignored meal prepping sessions. It is important that the goals that we set be S.M.A.R.T. They need to be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timely. Keep this in mind when you’re setting your goals for the New Year. If they are realistic and achievable you have a higher chance for success. And don’t buy into the mindset that everything needs to be perfect in order to succeed. You can still hit your goals even with missed workouts. Don’t let skipped workouts or failed meal planning be what derails you. Choose to dust yourself off and get back on the horse the next day. Each morning brings a new opportunity to work toward your goal.
  4. Doing It Alone. Starting the New Year off on the right foot and heading toward your goals is great! But sometimes, when the newness wears off and you’re a couple of months in, it can be hard to remain motivated to keep working toward the goals you set back in December. This is why it is super important to have a friend, family member, or trainer that you can work with to help keep you motivated and hold you accountable to keep pushing toward those goals. Group fitness classes can also be highly encouraging to keep you moving forward. Don’t try and tackle your New Year’s resolutions solo. Grab a friend and keep pushing each other to meet your goals.

Setting goals and making New Year’s resolutions is not necessarily a bad thing. The idea of a fresh start is quite exciting and can definitely be great motivation to work toward something you’ve wanted to change. But let’s remember that these goals need to be S.M.A.R.T. and that a few skipped workouts and failed meal planning sessions doesn’t mean you can’t still hit your goals. And hopefully this will finally be the year that you can say you successfully completed all of the goals you set out to achieve.