Saturday, December 17, 2011

The #1 Reason Why Your New Year's Resolutions Fail and What to Do Instead

Your old-and-never-worked New Year's resolution could be like "I resolve to start exercising 5 to 7 times a week, 30 to 60 minutes each time." If you haven't exercised regularly for the last 3 months, this resolution is bound to fail and you're doomed!

Start with small baby steps. You could start with a combination of walking, aerobic exercise, strength training, and other physical activities for 2 to 3 times for a total accumulation of 2 hours of exercise a week. The key is to be able to get into a regular exercise habit. Gradually increase the duration, variety, intensity and frequency. This is one of the reasons why a coach/trainer can be a really good source of professional guidance and accountability.

Improving health and fitness is on the top 3 New Year's Resolutions for most people. You can witness by the crazy crowd in the gym for the first two weeks. I can testify by the exploding number of visitors to my website and blog and new subscriber signups. People all over the world are searching for advices on losing weight, building muscles, eating right, workout routines, six pack abs, etc.

Health and fitness is the case where haste makes waste, as the old saying goes. Many people start the new year with good momentum, then lose steam by the end of January. By February, most people already quit or visit the gym much less often. Pad yourself on the back if you're still working out by June. You're rare if you're still showing up in the gym regularly by year end.

One study from the University of Scranton showed that a quarter of people who resolve to lose weight and change their eating habits on January 1st will go back to their old ways within a week.

The following list shows how many of these resolutions are maintained as time goes on:

- Past the first week: 75%
- Past two weeks: 71%
- Past one month: 64%
- After 6 months: 46%

Source: Auld Lang Syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year's resolvers and nonresolvers, by John C. Norcross, Marci S. Mrykalo, Matthew D. Blagys , University of Scranton. Journal of Clinical Psychology, Volume 58, Issue 4 (2002).

Respect yourself by showing your commitment and accountability in healthy lifestyle changes, not just 3 days, one week, or 6 months, permanent, for the long run.

One of the biggest mistakes when people make their New Year's Resolutions is that they want to change and do too many things, too soon and at the same time!

Sooner than later they get so overwhelmed that they simply cannot keep up with and just quit.

Changing or replacing an old habit takes time to become permanently part of you. Healthy lifestyle and habit changes don't just happen overnight. You should have known human behavior by now. It's true to eating healthy and working out regularly.

It's perfectly okay to dream big and have a big goal. But you need break down the big goal into smaller goals and action steps. Dream big but start small.

Make the smaller goals challenging yet still easily and realistically achievable. You'll feel confident and good about yourself when you achieve the small steps. It gives you the momentum, reinforcement and sense of accomplishment to move to the next step, a step closer to your bigger goal.

I suggest that you pick no more than two things to work on in each of the following areas. When you stick to it for one month, then add another one or two thing in the following month. If you're really conscious about your actions, you'll achieve 24 things in one area by the year end. That could be your bigger goal.

I must admit that I cannot start to change with all 24 things at the same time in just one area. But I can certainly focus on just two things in one month.

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