5 Mistakes that will Sabotage your New Years Resolutions!
Part of the reason, I’m convinced, involves some strategic blunders.
- Overestimate Your Willpower
If you didn’t have the willpower to exercise and eat healthy in 2018. Just because it’s 2019 doesn’t mean you automatically will be successful with the willpower you need.
About 20 years ago, researchers discovered something fascinating about willpower. In a landmark study, participants were given a geometry puzzle to work on. The puzzle was impossible to solve, but the researchers wanted to test how long the participants would struggle with the task before giving up.
Before taking the test, participants waited in a room with freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. One group was free to eat them; the other was forbidden from snacking. When it came time to work on the puzzle, the cookie-eaters toiled for 20 minutes on the puzzle. The cookie-resisters, meanwhile, lasted only eight minutes before calling it quits.
Why the dramatic difference?
The researchers concluded that resisting the cookies had drained their willpower. When it came time to solve a complicated puzzle, their reserves were already low. The study—and hundreds of others since—showed that willpower is a finite resource, one that depletes quickly.
When I’m making resolutions, I feel like a superhero. Temptations will bounce off me like bullets off Superman’s chest. My resolve won’t waver.
Yet that delusional thinking actually sets me up for failure. It leads me to set large goals and lots of them. Then when the year starts, I quickly exhaust my paltry willpower reserves. Part of the problem with New Year’s resolutions is that their resolutions, plural. The wiser approach: identify one modest change and focus on that until it becomes a habit. Focus on more than one is a sabotage.Your willpower is limited. Plan accordingly.
2. Go It Alone
Recently, I struck up a conversation with an older woman at the Fresh Market as we waited in the long checkout line. I learned she was a recovering alcoholic who’d been clean for years. When I praised her self-control, “Self-control is important,” she said. “But if you just rely on self-control, you’re dead. You need a community around you. I know alcoholics who haven’t had a drop for 40 years and still go to the AA meetings.”
We need each other. When it comes to resolutions, lone rangers…. are dead rangers.
I think that’s true, and not just for alcoholics. Whether your goal is to stay sober or healthy, you weren’t designed to go it alone. You need support and encouragement. Personal Trainers and Nutrition Professionals are the equivalent of AA meetings but for the rest of us with fitness and health goals
3. Don’t Leave Faith Out
When I’ve set New Year’s resolutions in the past, God hasn’t always entered the equation. I’m embarrassed to admit that, but it’s true. I don’t remember praying about my goals (even the spiritual ones!), or asking for divine empowerment. I failed to reflect on how the resolutions related to my identity as a spiritual person. I just sort of made them—then tried to bootstrap my way to success.
That’s a massive mistake. Keeping resolutions takes a lot of self-control. While we may think self-control is all on us divine scripture describes it as a fruit of the Spirit, something that grows in our lives when we’re connected to God. When we neglect our relationship with God, and fail to align our goals with his purposes, this vital fruit withers.
In the end it’s grace—not guilt—that enables us to lead holy, healthy lives.
Even social scientists know that getting spiritual about our goals is smart. Researchers tell us that “sanctified goals” (objectives that people believe have spiritual significance) have tremendous power. If you see your resolutions in the light of spiritual reality, you’re far more likely to keep them. Your body is a gift from God.
4. Don’t Wallow in Guilt
If you’re like me, you’ve been there. It’s February, and your once-shiny resolutions have become, yet again, a source of lingering shame. The tendency can be to wallow in guilt and self-loathing, especially if your broken resolutions involved sloth and glutony. You might think this guilt would lead to better behavior, but it does just the opposite. I’ve already messed up, you reason, so what’s the point of even trying now?
Researchers actually coined a term for this tendency. They call it the “What-the-Hell Effect.” Basically, it means that after messing up, we tend to mess up even more. Our guilt leads to hopelessness, spurring even worse behavior.
Thankfully as spiritual beings, we know that prayer and meditation can stop this vicious circle: by helping you forgive yourself. That’s good news because in the end it’s grace—not guilt—that enables us to lead healthy lives. That’s true on January 1—and every other day of the year.
5. Know where you are Starting
If you’re like me, you jump into something not having a good idea how to best track your progress. Before you begin your goals it’s important to know your body fat percent. It’s February, and your once-shiny resolutions have become, yet again, a source of lingering shame. The tendency can be to wallow in guilt and self-loathing, especially if your broken resolutions involved sloth and glutony. You might think this guilt.
If you have any additional questions…. text Dr. Fitness at 904.236.5858