Why New Years Resolutions are for Suckers

Have you ever gone into the last day of the year, optimistically armed with a collection of aspirational images of the “new and improved you” in mind (lose weight, quit smoking, pick up a new hobby, start a blog, etc.)?

Yes, I’m talking about the infamous yet elusive New Years Resolution and if you’re like most people including me, you have both made and abandoned them, often before Valentine’s Day even rolls around.

Surely we’ve all been there before; it’s the main reason that gyms see such a large spike in membership sales and attendance in early January (followed by a sharp but predictable decline a month or so later).

In fact, this phenomenon is so prevalent in the fitness world that there’s a specific name for these people – they’re called “Resolutioners”.  Without fail, they show up in hoards each January, only to overcrowd gyms nationwide and make reserving time on a cardio machine as difficult as scoring tickets to see ‘Hamilton’ on Broadway.

crowded gym

My beef with NYR’s

Don’t get me wrong, I am all for setting (SMART) goals and striving for continuous improvement.

Read: Getting Unstuck: How to Set ‘Smart’ Goals

My biggest issue with New Years Resolutions is that December 31st is really nothing more than an arbitrary, man-made date on the calendar.  Sure it’s the last day of the year.  And technically speaking it does mean that the Earth has completed another rotation around the Sun…but so what?!?!

If you have a worthwhile goal or some aspect of yourself that you strongly desire to change, why wait until the end of the year to start?  Like they say, there’s NO time like the present!  And if you really need an arbitrary date to give yourself a “clean start”, why not pick 12/1 instead?

Biting off more than you can chew

One of the main reasons so many people begin each year with (typically) admirable goals, but fail so miserably in a matter of weeks or months, is that they have bitten off more than they can chew.

While it’s certainly not impossible to try and change more than one major aspect of your life such as eating healthier and getting more sleep, your chances for success do decrease significantly as you tack on additional goals.

Therefore, it’s usually best to stick with one, maybe two major changes at a time.  Not only does this narrow focus increase your odds for success, but the positive momentum you gain from accomplishing the first goal, whatever it may be, will also help you be more effective at whatever change you go after next.

Taking baby steps for giant strides

Most of the changes we will seek to make in 2018 (or tomorrow if I can help you find some urgency) revolve around creating or replacing habits.  However, as a former cigarette smoker, I’ll be the first to admit that this is no easy task.

Fortunately there are experts on the subject like Leo Babauta of zenhabits.net that publish tons of free literature to help the rest of us.

I’ve recently become a big fan of Leo’s work, and would strongly encourage anyone who’s looking to implement meaningful change in their lives to check out what he has to say, starting with this short but powerful article: The 5 Keys to Forming Any Habit.

As of this moment there are still 35 days left in 2017 – that’s another 35 days to work on your goals before New Years rolls around.  In fact, that’s just enough time to form a new habit or replace an old one that no longer serves you!  So why not begin by taking small, incremental steps towards achieving your goals today?

After all…what do you really have to lose?

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