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New Year’s Resolution – The Trick to Meeting Them

Yep, it’s that time of year again.  As soon as we make the leap over the holiday season in a couple weeks, out will come the new year’s resolution.  “It’s a new year and it’s going to be a new me!”“This is the year I am finally going to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, stop smoking, make more money…”

Not to throw a wet towel on the excitement, but the reality is that only about 8% of people ever accomplish their new year’s resolution.  And, most don’t even stay committed to their resolution after the first 30 days into the new year.  At this point you might be thinking, “I’m going to be one of those 8%,” but you’re really not clear on HOW you will be part of that elite group.  Or, you’re totally discouraged because of your past new year’s resolution failures and so you aren’t going to bother making one. 

Before you charge ahead or give up, read on and I’ll give you 3 tricks of the trade for achieving your resolution.  And yes, you NEED to write things down in whatever medium you prefer.

First things first. What’s your resolution?  Have that in mind.

Trick # 1: Answer the Question, “Why Is This Your Resolution?”

This is trick of the trade #1 for a reason. It’s the first and most critical thing to ask and answer for yourself.  Too often we make a resolution because it’s the thing to do.  Everyone around you is making them. Gyms drop their membership and/or initiation prices.  You are inundated with sales on dieting programs and all sorts of other things.  But, if your why is just the thing to do and it isn’t important enough to you, you will fail! 

Let’s look at one of the most popular new year’s resolutions, to lose weight.  You may want to lose weight, but why?  Ask yourself “why” at least 3 times, each with a different answer.  Dig deeper than “it’s healthier.”  For example, “I want to lose weight.” 1) Why? “I want to look great in my clothes.” 2) Why? “I think people would take me more seriously at work.”  3) Why? “I’d have more confidence in myself.”  Now you see that it isn’t about just looking good, it’s about being a person that is confident.  What could this confidence in yourself bring?  A promotion, motivation to begin a new career, a happier marriage, meeting someone…?

Trust me, if you can’t come up with a bottom line answer that makes you feel good, then it will be an uphill battle to accomplish your new year’s resolution.

Trick # 2: Ditch Your Resolution! Have A Goal Instead.

This may sound like the same thing, but they are vastly different.  A resolution means you resolve to do such and such.  “I resolve to lose weight this year.”  Great!  Now what?  How are you going to do it?  Exactly when are you going to do it?  Resolutions are vague while goals have specificity.  A goal gives you direction, a sort of roadmap to follow.  Using the “I want to lose weight” example, your goal must be:

Specific…specifically how much weight do you want to lose?

Measurable…easy enough with a scale

Actionable…what are you going to do (i.e. exercise x days/week; cut xx calories/day)?

Realistic…are you giving yourself enough time to achieve it? (Realistic weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.)

Timely…when do you want to lose the weight by?

If you really want to increase your chances of success, think in quarters of the year instead of a whole year at once.  Start your new year by creating a much smaller “New Quarter Goal” rather than a year goal.  This will seem easier to achieve  and give you confidence.  And you can make quicker changes if something isn’t working.  Once one quarter has ended you’ll make a new goal for the next quarter based upon your progress to date. 

What if by doing it this way, you ended up losing 15 pounds by the end of the year instead of the 20 pounds you really wanted?  You’d still feel really good!  You will have made fantastic progress and be confident you could keep the weight you lost off.

Trick #3: Schedule Time to Spend on Meeting Your Goal

Bottom line, if you are really serious about meeting your goal, you need to know what you are going to do and when you are going to work on it.  Each Sunday, look at your calendar and plan out your week.  For example, if weight loss is your goal, you need to block out times you will exercise that week.  This simple action works for anything you want to accomplish, whether it’s the one thing you have to get done that week or you want to spend uninterrupted time with your family or friends. 

So, be in that 8% of people that accomplish their new year’s resolution!  Just remember…

  • Know why the resolution is important to you,
  • Turn your resolution into a goal and start the new year by creating a much smaller “New Quarter Goal” to increase your chances of success, and
  • Set aside time to work towards your goal.

Goals or Daily Habits: Which is More Important?

Without goals you will have difficulty achieving a significant level of success.  This stands for anything you really want, whether it is health related like losing weight or career related such as becoming a CEO.  Without goals you don’t have a road ahead of you to follow.  If you don’t know where you are going how are you going to get there?

But, your goals are worthless.  They REALLY don’t matter.  It’s just a fantasy, a story of desire you tell yourself, unless…

UNLESS your daily habits are 100% congruent with your goals.  So, let’s look at daily habits. 

Let’s say one of your goals is to run a marathon in 6 months.  Great!  Your daily habits are as follows: 5-6 hours of sleep, run no more than 7 miles/skip workouts, poor eating habits. 

Results: Failure, or worse, serious injury trying to finish the marathon.  So, what did it matter what your goals were if your daily habits didn’t match? 

This is not to say you have to be perfect every single day.  You are human after all.  A slip up in your daily habits or a day off will not deep six your goals.  But, that can’t become your reality or you may as well have never made the goals in the first place.

How can you make your daily habits match your goals?

First…ask yourself what you need to do differently each day to make your goals a reality.  For example, if one of your goals is to lose weight, do your daily habits include exercising at a specific time and eating healthy meals?

Second…be honest with yourself.  Are you cheating and consuming more calories too often?  Are you skipping too many workouts, are they of a high enough intensity?  Do you need the help of a fitness professional or dietician?  Are your daily habits really matching your goals?

Third…make yourself accountable.  Whether you do this daily or weekly, you need to evaluate if what you’re doing is getting you closer to your goals.  If not, what changes do you need to make to your daily habits?  If it helps, have an accountable partner you check in with at least weekly.

So, which is more important, goals or daily habits? 

Goals are important to know where you are going.  Daily habits are important in getting you there.  Goals don’t mean squat if your daily habits don’t match up with meeting those goals.  So, if you want to make your goals a reality, your daily habits have to be the means to get you there.  Focus on the right daily habits and you will have success.

The One Thing Holding You Back From… (Excuses)

You want to lose weight.  You want to look and feel great all the time.  You want a profitable business/career.  You want to ditch the dieting forever.  Once you lose that weight you want to keep it off.  You want less stress and more energy.  

These are great things we all want.  Why is it so difficult then to lose that weight, or get off that dieting roller coaster, and achieve everything we want.  The answer most often lies in the excuses we tell ourselves.  

There are good reasons for not doing something we want or intend to do.  It might be an emergency or something of more importance that comes up and we have to postpone that thing we wanted/meant to do.  Any reason we give ourselves is real and valid at the time. 

What happens when we keep using these “reasons” day after day, month after month?  Sadly, these once valid reasons become the “good” excuses we have for putting off what we wanted, intended, or knew we should do.  The excuses we made were good, but they didn’t get us anywhere.

It’s safe to say all of us have used these 3 excuses at one time or another.

Excuse #1: “I Have No Time/I’m Too Busy.”

Time to get real on this excuse.  We all have 24 hours in a day…not more, not less.  People that perform at high levels of achievement don’t have any more time than the rest of us, and in fact it’s likely they are even busier.  Consider Richard Branson, Brendon Burchard, Tony Robbins, Oprah Winfrey…the list goes on.  What they do is make time for what is important to them, and yes their fitness and health are critical factors to their high performance.

Here are a few options for busting through the exercise time excuse:

  • Been off the exercise wagon a while?  Take 5-10 minutes each day (no more until this becomes so easy and a habit) and do something physical.  Walk, jog, do a few push-ups, crunches, stretches, etc. 
  • Exercise in the morning before your day truly becomes busy.
  • Literally schedule exercise into your day, just like you would a meeting.  If 15-minutes is all you have tomorrow, then 15-minutes it is.   

Excuse #2: “I’ve Tried [such and such] Before and It Didn’t Work.”

There are two things about this excuse.  One, maybe the diet or weight loss program you tried really didn’t work for you.  Fine, but did you try something else or just give up?  Second, maybe you had a failed attempt at losing weight or reaching whatever goal you had.  Did you get discouraged and just give up?

The biggest problem with this excuse is letting failure have its way.  Everyone fails at times.  High performers do.  The difference is they get back into the “game” quickly.

How about trying this:  Have a plan for when you do fail.  For example, 2 days in a row of skipping exercise is all I will allow myself; or if I eat poorly 1 day, the next day I’ll eat a healthy breakfast and dinner.

Excuse #3: “I Don’t Have Money To [join a gym, pay a personal trainer, buy a program].”

This excuse requires a certain amount of honesty.  Do you truly lack money to make even a small investment in your health and fitness?  Is losing weight and being fit really on the top of your list of importance?  How badly and how fast do you want to lose that weight, be stronger, more mobile…?

The key to ditching this excuse is being able to answer these questions.  Because what is important to us, we usually put our resources into and accomplish.  And while money is a legitimate concern, running or fast walking outside and doing bodyweight exercises at home are free.  Small purchases of a few key pieces of equipment to have at home can help you level up. 

Bottom Line…

Examine your reasons for skipping exercise and continuing to eat unhealthy.  Have these become excuses over time?  If so, take one excuse and make just one small change to be better.  Stick with that until it is so easy that you know you can make a second small change.  The road ahead to losing weight, feeling great and having the life you want then becomes that much easier.