Seventy-eight percent of people fail at achieving their New Year’s resolution. Why? Is it because their goals are too lofty and will-power is crushed? Maybe they're in the contemplation stage of making a habit change and don’t know how to prepare and take action. Or is it because they're focused on the negative and not the positive aspects of their goal? Is it because they're extrinsically motivated, not intrinsically motivated, and when results don’t happen overnight they get frustrated?
Some common New Year’s resolutions: “I am going to lose weight,” “I am going to exercise more,” “I am going to learn a new language.” Regardless of the resolution, the key is to develop a SOLID PLAN.
Start by asking yourself the following questions:
1. What is my resolution?
2. What is holding me back now?
3. How will I accomplish my resolution?
4. How will I know when I get there, what are the acceptance criteria?
Here is a hypothetical example that utilizes an approach that you can follow to join the 22% who are successful.
1. What: I am going get fit in 2013!
2. What is holding me back?
Here are some lame excuses that keep most people from achieving their fitness goals:
o I don’t have enough time.
§ Solution: Wake up 15 minutes earlier during the week and incorporate the Spartan warm up and cool down as a daily habit.
o I am exhausted at the end of the day
§ Solution: If you are exhausted at the end of the day, execute the “10 minute rule.” Start walking or doing some calisthenics for 10 minutes; 99% of the time it will result in an entire work out. One of my personal favorite sayings: “It takes energy to make energy.”
o I don’t feel comfortable in the gym.
§ Solution: Pushups, sit ups, body weight squats, and lunges do not require a gym.
o I don’t like to exercise.
§ Solution: Find an activity you like. Go for a walk in the woods and smell the pine trees. Join a dance class. Join a basketball league. Sign up for a Spartan Group X exercise class. Embrace the power of many. Enjoy the social interaction with others that have similar goals and interests. It has been shown that adherence to a program increases as the social cohesion of the group increases.
Your barrier may be completely different from those above, but you get the point. Identify your barriers, figure out what has prevented you from being successful in the past, and then find a solution to overcome that barrier. Predict, forecast, take a wild guess, but figure out what might hold you back.
3. What is my plan? How am I going to exercise more?
Start with small yet incremental goals and experience the feeling of success NOT failure. This approach will create the intrinsic motivation that you need to continue the journey towards your goal! For example:
– “I will start by getting up 15 minutes earlier, 3 days per week for the next 2 weeks, and walk/run or do body weight exercises. Every 2 weeks, I will get up another 5 minutes earlier until I have enough time to complete the Spartan WOD.” This may seem like slow progress to some, but slow, steady progress is more likely to cause long-term success than rapid short-term progress.
– Do what you know is accomplishable. Challenge yourself, but don’t set the bar too high. “I will take breaks throughout the day and do Burpees every 2 hours throughout my work day”. Establish the habit of being physically active; you are developing a lifestyle, the intensity doesn’t matter at this point.
– Slowly expand your comfort zone. Do slightly more than you did in the previous week. Large leaps in expectations or challenges will certainly lead to failure. Take one small step at a time.
– Put your plan in writing. Today I will do X. Each week I will add Y to X. Ultimately leading to accomplishment of Z. Whatever X, Y, and Z are, is up to you, the point is to have the plan and have it in writing.
4. Final Step: What are my acceptance criteria?
“I will accept that my New Year’s resolution is completed when I have been exercising 4 hours per week for a minimum of 3 months.” That does not mean that you have to start with that amount of exercise, it is realization of your goal. It may take 6 months to get there. Accomplishments, no matter how small, will keep you motivated. Reward yourself for accomplishing goals. If you go a full week getting up 15 minutes early and incorporate Burpees every 2 hours in your work day, reward yourself with a fitness magazine and stay motivated!
The above processes, without even realizing it, will increase your self-efficacy, which is a measure of one's own ability to complete tasks and reach lofty goals. It affects every area of human behavior. Believing in one’s self, setting realistic goals and creating a plan to reach those goals results in self-empowerment, confidence, and success!
Don’t be just another statistic of an unsuccessful attempt at a New Year’s resolution. In advance think seriously about your resolution, identify potential barriers, and develop a written plan. Don’t leave it to chance, your success is in your hands.