As you detox from this weeks cookie binge, you're probably thinking ahead to next week's holiday, and possibly considering New Years resolutions.
In my time as a dietitian, I've heard all sorts of New Years resolutions. I can always pick the ones that will fizzle by Jan 17th. Initially, I planned a post on tips for sticking to your New Years resolution, but when I thought about it, I realized the problem is usually with the resolution itself. A poorly planned, unrealistic resolution makes "sticking to it" impossible. The way I see it, there are seven types of unattainable resolutions most people make again and again. Read on to see if any of these sound familiar to you - if you're in the 92%, I'm guessing some will.
The Grandiose Resolution
Nevermind that you can barely run a mile without fainting, next year, you will run a marathon. Maybe you plan to transform your diet of fast food and frozen taquitos to raw, vegan? And the tens of thousands you owe in student loans, car debts and a few too many trips to Target will be 100% paid off by 2015, especially after you quit your current job to pursue your passion, making you an instant millionaire.
The remedy: You don't want to damper your enthusiasm, but at the same time, the commitment to do a complete 180 can be difficult for most people to stick with. Instead, break your resolution into mini-monthly goals. For example, if you truly want to run a marathon in 2014, but currently lack any scheduled physical activity, start January with the commitment to jog 3 days a week. At the end of the month, check in on your progress. Ask yourself if you feel comfortable moving forward and if your initial resolution is still what you want. If so, great! Push yourself a little further the next month. If not, no worries. Remember, any step in the right direction is still progress.
The Groundhog's Day Resolution
In 2010, your New Years resolution was to quit smoking. Same thing in 2011, 2012, and 2013. And guess what? You're still smoking. But 2014, this will be the year.
The remedy: Ask yourself what went wrong in years past. Did you make an action plan, or did you fly by the seat of your pants? Maybe you were doing great until a stressful life event knocked you off course. Or maybe, the resolution isn't something you really want, but rather something that your significant other talked you into. If you know what went wrong in years past, it's easy to come up with a solution. If not, you'll be doomed to repeat the same mistakes.
The 11:52 PM Resolution
Crap. The ball is about to drop and you still haven't made a resolution. Quick, come up with something! By the way, this is the category most of my resolutions fall under.
The remedy: It's difficult to come up with a good resolution during the frantic holiday season, but it's unlikely you'll stick with any resolution you make with a few glasses of champagne in your system while watching Dick Clark, let alone remember it. A New Years resolution doesn't have to start on Jan 1st? It can be a January 14th resolution, or even a February 1st resolution if it works for you. Instead of quickly coming up with a resolution for the sake of making a resolution, commit to setting aside an hour or so on New Years Day to think about what areas of self-improvement you want to work on in the coming year. Lay down clear plans for making the change, including a start date that works for you.
The Vague Resolution
In 2014, you'll work harder....or maybe eat a little healthier...and, you know, just be a better person.
The remedy: It's nice to have good intentions, but you'll never know if you've achieved it if you don't set a benchmark for success. Set a S.M.A.R.T goal, one that is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based, which will help you not only set a realistic goal, but one that has built in measurements for success.
The Bucket List Resolution
Next year, you're going to lose 30 lbs, master yoga, read a new book every week, and reconnect with 20 long lost friends. Oh, and you'll learn fluent Spanish.
The remedy: While it's great to work on a few things at once, it's easy to step over the line into resolution overkill. Pick out which 1-3 goals are most important to you. Otherwise, your energy will be so spread out, you'll be lucky to achieve just one. You could also try spreading out less important goals to try on a monthly basis throughout the year, for example an unlimited yoga membership in May or signing up for an online Spanish class in September.
The Secret Resolution
Not even Julian Assange knows your resolution.
The remedy: If you don't share your resolution with others, you'll be lacking the accountability and social support that can help you succeed when times get tough. You don't need to draft your resolution into a facebook status, but you do need to inform a few close friends or family members of your intentions. If you can, find someone who is making a similar resolution, so you can share tips and support each other throughout the year.
I'm Too Cool for a Resolution
New Years resolutions are sooo 2010.
The remedy: I agree, New Years resolutions are a bit kitschy, but I bet you still have areas you'd like to improve, habits you want to break and changes you dream of making. Instead of making a resolution, write a letter to yourself with your intentions, hopes and dreams for the new year. How you envision yourself 365 days from now? What is the best possible version of yourself? Reread your letter throughout the year and use it to set goals, make important decisions and to remind yourself of what you really want out of life.
Have you made these mistakes before? Are you making any New Years resolutions for 2014? If so, please share!