Monday, January 4, 2016

8 Reasons Your Resolutions Are Doomed to Fail

Resolutions are really nothing more than goals. And the way you set your goals can have a big effect on whether or not you achieve them. At this time of year, many people set health goals like losing weight or exercising. But I’m guessing no one ever taught you how to set goals the right way, so your resolutions will likely fail. Here’s why:

1.    You didn’t make your resolutions actions/behavior oriented. If weight loss was your “goal”, then you are doomed to fail. “I will lose weight” or “I will lose 20 pounds” are not actions. You can’t “do” an outcome – you can “do” behaviors. Setting behavioral goals such as “I will switch to diet soda or water instead of drinking regular sodas” or “I will keep a food record and track my calories” are behaviors that will lead to weight loss. Don’t resolve to “lose weight” but resolve to cut back on snacks, eat more fruits and vegetables, eat breakfast, reduce portion sizes. Or, sign up for an exercise or weight loss class.  These actions will help you achieve the outcome – weight loss – that you want.
2.    You Set the Bar Way Too High. Not being realistic about your resolution sets you up for failure. Don’t resolve to run 5 miles every day, 7 days a week. Set goals that you really, honestly feel you can achieve. It can be as small as walking 5 minutes a day or adding in one extra piece of fruit every day. After you achieve that goal, set newer, higher goals. Take baby steps so that you can feel good about your achievements and stay motivated.
3.    You didn’t make a plan and write it down. If you don’t put it on paper (or an app) you’re less likely to follow through. Charting your progress on your plan will help you stay on track.
4.    You Weren’t Specific Enough.  “I will exercise more” sounds great but what does it mean? The more specific you are, the more likely you are to follow through. “I am going to walk for 20 minutes after work on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday morning” is much more specific and tells you exactly what you are going to do.
5.    You Weren’t Flexible. What if rains and you can’t walk after work on Tuesday? Will you go to the gym? Do you have a workout DVD that you can use inside? Having a backup plan makes is a key to resolution success.
6.    You didn’t reward yourself. No, just the joy of achieving your goal is not enough. We are humans and humans like stuff.  You need to reward yourself with something meaningful. It may be as simple as a bubble bath, binge watching Downton Abbey, or a lunch date with a special friend.
7.    You Didn’t Ask for Help. For some of us, going it alone goes just fine. But sometimes, you need to recruit some help. Chances are you’ve got friends and family members who have the same goals you do. For instance, make walking dates with friends. There is strength – and support – in numbers. You may need to seek professional help – especially if you are trying to quit smoking or lower your cholesterol. Seek the right professional to help you.
8.    You’re Unforgiving. If you are too hard on yourself when you don’t reach your goal, your motivation will bottom out. You should constantly reevaluate and re-set your goals and keep at it.

Well-constructed goals can stack the odds in favor of actually achieving your New Year’s resolution. So go forth and set some realistic, flexible behavioral goals and make it happen!

Beth Kitchin, PhD, RDN
Assistant Professor, Nutrition Sciences
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Follow me on Twitter: @DrBethK

No comments:

Post a Comment