Did you make any resolutions last year?
Join a gym. Eat better. Lose some weight. Stay fit and healthy. Get jacked.
You know, stuff like that..?
How’d that work out for you?
Odds are, not all that well. According to a recent study done by the University of Scranton, only 8% of people who made new year’s resolutions in 2012 were successful in achieving them. They also noted that success rates drop as age rises. Which means, if you’re making resolutions year after year, chances are you’re having less and less success with them.
So are you planning on making any resolutions this year?
Entering into a new year is symbolic of crossing a threshold — an artificial divide that compels us to usher out the old in favour of a chance to forge a more positive path for certain (if not all) aspects of our lives.
Thus, the new year marks a time for a renewed sense of hope and purpose.
So Why Do So Many People Fail To Achieve Their Resolutions?
Is it a problem with managing priorities?
Lack of a strong support system around them?
Or what about that monkey-wrench that always seem to fly out of left field?
Sure. Each of these things can play a role in resolution break down. I’ve used them as excuses a time or two (or five) in the past. But these are elements of failure that rear their ugly heads only after you’ve gotten your hands dirty — 3 days, 3 weeks, 3 months into your journey for change.
If you’re not setting yourself up for success with the resolution itself, then issues such as priorities, support systems, injury and monkey wrenches will only have their corrosive potential amplified.
That’s why the first place you need to look when striving for achievement of your new year’s resolutions is at the beginning.
Your Resolutions Simply Aren’t Sticky Enough
One of the biggest problems in making resolutions adhesive enough to stick for any substantial period of time lies in the generality with which they’re typically made.
Take for instance, that University Of Scranton study we referenced earlier. In it, they found that “Lose Weight” and “Staying Fit And Healthy” were two of the top ten resolutions for 2012.
Commendable starting points for goals, but lacking the finer details that help paint a personalized portrait of success.
You see, most people tend to have a loose idea of what they want. They typically discuss a desire to get in shape, but are unable to communicate exactly what that means or looks like.
Thus, they’re unable to choose a course of action that best sets them up to achieve that desire. The result is a haphazard throwing of ‘stuff’ at the wall to see what sticks. And, according to those guys and gals in Scranton, only about 8% of it does.
And that’s ok.
This is something I encounter all the time with new fitness clients. Having a general idea of what you want serves as a springboard from which to engage in a dialogue and build a sustainable program.
When defining the notion of ‘getting in shape’, there is no one size fits all depiction.
Being in shape is a very personal thing. The better you can define what ‘losing weight’, and ‘staying fit and healthy’ mean to you — how it looks and how it feels — the more likely that you are to make your fitness habits, and your resolutions, stick.
Answer These 5 Questions To Help Define Your Fitness
Below are a few questions you can use to help define your fitness, and thus, refine your resolutions.
By no means is this an exhaustive list, but the following 5 questions have been some of the most important in helping my clients better articulate what it is they really desire when they resolve to get in shape and improve their fitness.
So, let’s dive in…
1. What does your history of activity and health look like?
It can be challenging to move forward if you don’t pay any mind to where you’re coming from. The past is chock-full of lessons that can provide you with a framework for creating a realistic and sound program for change.
Let’s say you’ve been a desk jockey your whole life — nose in the books during your schooling, feet up on the couch during leisure time, and eyes on the screen for your profession — and have devoted little to no time for physical activity. Perhaps making a resolution to run a marathon by the fall is a poor choice.
If you don’t even own a pair of running shoes, trying to work up to that kind of mileage in such little time could be setting yourself up for failure.
Instead, a resolution to start walking every day for 30 minutes might lay just inside your wheelhouse.
2. What things have you tried in the past that have and have not worked for you?
Again, here you’re looking at your past to help direct your future. But this time you’re zoning in a bit more on past attempts at achieving goals.
Maybe you’ve signed up for Yoga or Pilates classes in the past and just never could stay with them for any substantial period of time. And when you think back on it, your days doing circuit training with the guys back in college were the most consistent (and FUN) that you’ve ever had with a fitness program.
The more you think about it, the more you realize you want more variety and intensity out of your fitness. Maybe you decide that Cross-Training will provide you with the motivation you need to follow through on your resolution for a better body.
3. How would you define your current state of health?
Essentially you’re looking to gauge your starting point. By establishing where you presently stand, you’ll be better able to know what your first step should be.
For example, perhaps you consider yourself a bit of a couch potato and your resolution is to run a 5k this year, something that you consider no small feat. So, you decide to start running 3 times per week.
However, you’ve had knee problems for a while now and the running results in nightly flair ups. Going to sleep comfortably becomes problematic, and getting out of bed in the morning becomes a struggle to say the least. And by the end of the first week you’ve given up running and given up on your resolution.
But instead of jumping right into your running, what if you acknowledged your knee problems from the start and decided that as a part of your resolution to run a 5k, you’d first take steps to heal your knees. That might entail a change in diet, the addition of supplementation, or engaging in a few months of corrective exercise.
Because you assess where you presently stand, you can better detail and chart your resolution to run a 5k.
4. If you didn’t have any limitations (physical or beliefs) what would you do for activity?
Now you’ll start entertaining the future. And, even though the previous questions have been about looking at things in a realistic manner, we’re looking to dream big here.
What kind of movement and activities make you happy? Is there any athlete, performer, friend or relative that you look at in awe with regard to their physical ability?
If you’ve always idolized Bruce Lee, maybe joining a gym won’t be as inspirational a move as signing up at the local martial arts school. Perhaps barbell squats and dumbbell lunges bore you, but horse stances and round-house kicks fire you up.
Why not stack the odds in your favour?
By aligning your resolutions with your dreams, you begin to infuse them with personal meaning. When the light at the end of the tunnel is one that actually excites you and finds you hopping out of bed in anticipation instead of hitting the snooze button, you’ve begun to make your fitness a part of your life and not some foreboding obligation.
5. What things do you feel you need to do/change to achieve those goals?
Until now, you’ve been looking at things from strictly physical aspect. Your abilities, your activities, your limitations and your aspirations.
However, now you’re going to take a look at things on a very fundamental level. The fact is, that even though you may feel like things in your life are out of control, you have some idea about what you need to do to make a change in their lives. When asked about it, they’re usually able to come up with a list of habits and environmental factors that seem embarrassingly obvious.
Stop hitting snooze. Exercise every morning. Stop eating junk food. Start making my own meals. Surround myself with people who will build me up, instead of tear me down.
Change is hard. And what needs to be changed tends to get suppressed in the search for a magic pill — an easier way out.
But, there’s power in affirmations, and strength to be won by facing the hard stuff head-on.
“I’m working on my health by exercising every morning instead of staying in bed for an extra 20 minutes.”
“I’m re-shaping my body by making my meals for the week every Sunday instead of settling for a fast-food fix during the week.”
“I’m empowering my mind and spirit by engaging in positive daily interactions instead of allowing toxic individuals to drag me down.”
On a fundamental level, you know what you need to do. Write it down and recite it daily to continually strengthen the foundation of your resolutions.
Here’s To One Stellar Year!
These questions are a starting point. And they need not be just for new year’s resolutions, but can be for resolutions all year long.
As you begin answering them, you’ll find that even though they’re presented as an ordered list, they’re actually cyclical — in many ways, different perspectives on the similar ideas. It’s not always what you ask, but how you ask it that can make a difference.
There are no right or wrong answers here. Feel free to drop us a comment down below, or add in a few of your own to the mix.
We’d love to hear from you.