New Years Resolutions

It's almost 2016 - hard to believe!  Fun fact:  Did you know that celebrating the new year is one of the oldest holiday celebrations?  Originally (way back when), the new year was celebrated in the beginning of spring,  the season of renewal and rebirth.   January 1 has been the celebrated New Years date by Western nations for only about the past 400 years.

With the New Years celebration comes an equally old tradition of making resolutions.  According to statistics, about 45% of you will be making new years resolutions this year.  Of that 45% only about 8% of people are regularly successful with their resolutions. Others have infrequent success and about 24% never succeed and have failed on every resolution they have ever made.  This sounds pretty grim, right?  And when you look at how long people last with their resolution, it gets worse.  According to research, only about 75% make it past the first week, and 46% make it past 6 months.

So why do we do it?  Why not just throw in the towel?  John Wellbourn, creator of CrossFit Football, has an interesting opinion in an article you can read on his blog, but here is my take.  When people think resolutions, they think in broad terms that will often, if achieved, completely redefine their lives.  This is not the problem.  At least, not exactly.  While it is not impossible to make major changes in your life, I see a couple issues with the average resolution maker:

Starting Tomorrow

A resolution is not an excuse to put off a goal for tomorrow.  If you use a resolution as an excuse for bad behavior today, I can already tell you - its not looking good.  Starting a resolution on January 1 is just as arbitrary as it is the choice of day to start the new year.  If you keep putting off your goals, ask yourself why.  Is it stressing you out because it's daunting?  Maybe try a new approach - try making a new resolution each month that will lead you to your overall goal.  Or you can even get more specific and have a resolution each time you wake up. Focusing on making time for change in a 24 hour period is much less ominous than throughout 365 days.

The 0 - 100 Method

Along the same lines, people often make big-change resolutions (e.g. quit smoking; get in shape) and then try too much too soon.  For example they decide to get in shape and then try to commit to running for at least 30min every day when they haven't done anything more than a speed walk in over 5 years.  When after a week their body feels beat up and maladjusted to its new strenuous schedule, you give up.  Instead of going from not at all to all in, try to ease yourself in to a new change.  You don't decide to become a CrossFitter and then do every workout RX - you work up to it.  Easing into a change will allow your mind and body time to adjust.  Your mind and body are against change, despite yourself.   It's nothing personal, its evolution.  Your brain on a primal level says: this(your lifestyle) is the norm. I am surviving with this as the norm.  Therefore the norm is good.  In order to break your life patterns with long term success is to allow yourself a gradual path so you can slowly readjust to establish new "norms."

The bottom line is create a plan and be specific.  Goal setting, as I have said more than once, is a good thing.  But if you want to achieve it, there has to be a clearly defined plan of attack.  Do you make new years resolutions?  What are they for 2016?