Well, it is that time of year again when people everywhere tell themselves that “this year, I really will lose weight.” Of course, most of them said that last year as well. The gym will be crowded for the next two weeks, full of new faces, and then come January 15, you’ll be able to get a parking space right in front of the door. Face it, New Year’s resolutions rarely work. Flipping the calendar does not magically allow some deep-hidden motivation and resolve to suddenly manifest itself. If you didn’t want to do this in October, what is different in January?
That does not mean you can’t finally lose that weight this year though. What it means is you need to do it for the right reasons and with the right motivation. Telling yourself something lame like “I’m going to be good after the first of the year” won’t work. Didn’t work last year, did it? Won’t work this year either. Stop focusing on the “New Year” or “the first of the year” or “January 1st”. The date isn’t important. (As the old African proverb states: “The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is today.”) Just focus on your goal, and start performing behavior congruent with your goal today.
As for your goal, another reason New Year’s resolutions don’t work is because most people go about setting goals improperly. If you say “My New Year’s resolution is that I’m going to lose 25 pounds”, chances are slim you’ll do it. That goal, while admirable, is poorly defined. How are you going to lose 25 pounds? When are you going to lose it by? Also, you’ve defined your goal as the peak of the mountain, without any incremental benchmarks of success along the way. So, until you lose the full 25, you don’t have successes to reflect upon, just a view of the long hill still in front of you. That is not going to motivate you to keep going.
Let’s take that same goal and make it 100% more effective. Let’s say that starting today, your goal will be to lose 1 lb per week. You will do this by making positive changes in your nutrition and beginning a consistent exercise program. You can even make this significantly more effective by defining what “making positive changes in your nutrition” and “a consistent exercise program” really means. Write these things down, or get a program to follow such as my “17-Week Body Transformation Course” or “The Caveman’s Guide To Fitness“. Losing 1 pound per week is something just about anybody can stick with and succeed.
Suddenly, every week you have a new, easily attainable goal in front of you. This allows you to celebrate your success and stay motivated. Now that you have those short term goals, take that same initial goal and change it to “I will lose 25 pounds by the first day of summer.” You now have a plan to get there, with plenty of incremental benchmarks of success along the way.
Do this and you have a much better chance of making this year’s resolution stick.
Dave Soucy is an entrepreneur, coach, trainer, motivator, husband, dad, and former fat guy. Learn more about him here.