It is common knowledge that most New Year’s resolutions fail––otherwise the nearly 40% of obese Americans who made those resolutions last year would not be making the same resolution again. While there is certainly a good bit of psychology behind why this is the case, it is possible that there are two key reasons why most people do not follow through with these commitments.
The Reasons Many Resolutions Fail
New Year’s resolutions are often lofty goals. It is useful to use the most common New Year’s resolution as an example here––weight loss. Weight loss and New Year’s resolutions are virtually synonymous, and exploring why both are so difficult to follow through with provides insight into why so many people fail to achieve either of these things.
Some people may want to lose a stubborn 10 pounds, while others might want to lose 40, 50 or 100 pounds. Weight loss, however, is a lofty goal regardless of how much weight you want to lose, simply because if it were easy, it wouldn’t be the most common resolution people make, and there wouldn’t be an entire multimillion (or likely billion) dollar industry created for helping people lose weight.
Resolutions do not fail because they are large undertakings, though; they fail because people do not make plans that are possible to execute and people do not break down big goals into manageable milestones (thus manageable expectations).
If you want to lose 50 pounds, great! You will be doing your health an enormous favor. But where do you start? Obviously, if you are 50 pounds overweight, there are probably a number of things about your lifestyle that need to be changed in order to facilitate weight loss.
However, sticking to a new, healthy diet while simultaneously committing to exercising and committing to getting enough sleep and figuring out which supplements you should take… all of these things can add up to be overwhelming––the equivalent of taking your car from 0 to 100 mph without ever having driven before. And in this metaphor, the car probably has flat tires, no gas and needs an oil change.
Expecting all of these changes to be made overnight (for most people) amounts to an un-executable plan. So, when your plan fails, or when you fail to create a plan that is possible to follow, and when your goal to lose 50 pounds eventually derails and your expectations are not met, most people simply give up.
How To Set Goals for Your Health
Any goal that you set for yourself is achievable. Read that again, because many people need to hear it. It requires dedication, hard work and the prescience to understand that you won’t be perfect. That’s ok––if the prerequisite for success was perfection, no one would ever achieve any goal they ever set.
Create a Plan
With any goal, making a plan is critical. Want to lose weight? We know that diet, exercise and getting enough rest all influence weight. But remember, it is important to make a plan you can execute, so since we are starting from the bottom, why not start with one key change and focus on that? Why not start with getting your diet under control? (The Kaufmann Diet is a great diet for those looking to shed some pounds and regain control of their health.)
Let’s break down what it means to get your diet under control: Clean out your fridge, buy groceries, carry snacks with you, plan your meals in advance––any strategy that is useful for keeping you on your diet should be employed.
A goal without a plan is doomed to fail. If you are serious about losing weight, create a plan, and stick to it. Make sure it is a plan that you can execute and one that it is not too overwhelming or too much too soon. If your plan is not executable, get back to the drawing board.
While creating your plan, commit to one significant change, and do everything in your power to stick to that. Eventually, those single changes become habits, allowing you to focus on making other, singular significant changes that will help you achieve your goal.
Start with your diet. Commit to the Kaufmann Diet for 31 days––the entire month of January. Do not worry about making any other changes (unless under the direction of your doctor)––do not worry about exercise, intermittent fasting, introducing a ton of new supplements. See what changes can be made just by changing your diet. After a month, you will likely see significant change––and your habits will also have changed. At this point, maybe you introduce a sensible exercise regimen––as little as 150 minutes per week of walking––into your plan. Commit to this until it becomes another healthy habit.
Manage Expectations and Set Small, Achievable Goals Goals
Losing 50 pounds is tall order for anyone, and it won’t happen overnight, over the course of a week, or even a month. Assuming that change happens overnight or that you will see results immediately is a recipe for failure. Managing expectations about what you can handle will allow you to slowly cultivate a healthy lifestyle that will finally stick this time.
What matters most is commitment over the long run, and committing to any task over the long run is much easier when the task at hand is broken down into small, achievable milestones. Setting small goals over the course of your journey is critical for managing expectations.
As far as setting realistic expectations and achievable goals is concerned in regards to weight loss: 2 pounds a week is the generally-agreed-upon safe, healthy maximum for most people to lose. For many, it’s closer to a 1 to 1.5 pounds. If your expectations are higher than this, you will likely be let down. Be realistic.
But even at one pound per week, that is 52 pounds in a year! The point is that small goals add up over the long run. Achieving small goals keeps the larger, daunting goal out of sight and out of mind––especially in the beginning. Eventually though, that large goal that you set for yourself will come into sharp focus and be very achievable. Achieving that lofty goal, however, must start with setting multiple, achievable goals that will ultimately add up to your larger goal.