It’s that time of year where people are heading to the gym, embarking on diets, trying to whip their lives into shape in a burst of new year new me energy.
Which is all great and people should capitalise on the energy whenever they can, as it’s so hard to change anything. But when I thought about making resolutions (get back comfortably in my size 10s, exercise more, write more) I realised I’m making the same resolutions I do almost every year. And they’re just doomed to fail.
The problem with failure is once you’ve done it, it’s really hard to come back and feel motivated again. Which is a big reason why January is a really crap time to make difficult changes. It’s a depressing month – it’s dark, cold and miserable, which doesn’t give you much energy to commit to life changes. That’s why the idea to ‘change one thing’ each month is what I’m going for this year, as sticking to one thing for a month is much easier!
Here are some resolutions doomed to fail (and some solutions you could try if you really want to go for them!)
1. Exercising More
Vow to get fit – buy that gym membership, use it frequently for a week, taper off, realise you spent £300 odd on something you’ve used for two weeks and will never touch again. It’s the lifeblood of gyms across the country, and something loads of people are guilty of. Exercising in January is HARD, even with the gym. It’s cold, it’s dark, you just want to be in bed. It’s never going to happen.
(But if you really want to get fit, try signing up to Jantastic – with a few mates if possible. Set yourself a monthly challenge in line with the focus. It starts with consistency and builds up to performance. You score points for completing challenges and can earn badges for achievements. And in this age of Facebook games, we’re all highly motivated by badges! Fantastic is great to help keep you motivated in the dark, dreary months, and by the time it finishes in March, you’ll have built up a habit you can keep going all year.)
2. Losing Weight
After all the Christmas gluttony, you’re going to knuckle down and lose the extra podge, getting back into your skinny jeans and feeling better about your body. Only that christmas food is still all lying around, and the cold makes you want to eat more. Losing weight at any time isn’t easy, but it’s particularly hard at this time of year.
3. Achieving a GIANT Goal
This year is the one. The big one. You are finally going to publish that novel, climb Mount Everest, redecorate your entire house or whatever your particular poison is. You haven’t done it all those other years because those other years sucked. But 2015, 2015 is looking hot.
I’ve talked before about SMART goals (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and timely). Big Giant Goals are not SMART. They are the exact opposite. And that’s why they are doomed to fail. There’s a reason you haven’t done it any of those other years, and it’s because it’s too big to fully comprehend.
(But if you do want to go for it – good for you! – why not break it down into one Achievable goal per month? e.g. you want to get published, writing the first draft of your book has to come first. Set that for January, editing February, Beta Reads March etc etc. Small, SMART steps make big goals much more manageable. And even if you don’t achieve it this year, you’ll hopefully at least be much much closer for next year!)
4. Anything That Is Dependent On Anyone Else
I’m going to get married this year. I’m going to bag a man, pin him down, get him to propose and have a beautiful wedding and exotic honeymoon. It might happen. But if it does, it won’t be under your control.
Trying to set goals that rely on other people never works, because other people are as prone to lacking motivation as you are. There are too many variables, too many things you can’t be responsible for. The marriage thing is an extreme example, but think about it – what can you actually do to action this resolution? You could go out every week, but you might never meet anyone actually worth marrying! Resolutions should be entirely dependent on you, not other people.
(But if you really, really want to… I’m doing this – one of my resolutions this year is to complete a triathlon with my mother. I know I can complete one on my own, but trying to get Mum to come along for the ride will only work if she’s as determined and invested as I am. I happen to know my Mum loves a challenge, and from the christmas presents she’s got me this year, I’m pretty sure she’ll go wherever this challenge takes her. Make sure your partner is invested, make sure they want the same things you want, and make sure you can cheerlead each other. Trying to complete your own challenge is hard enough, without having to drag someone else behind you!)
5. Anything Where The Goal Posts Are Too Far Down The Line
I am going to be size ten by the time we go to Aunty X’s birthday party in August, so I can fit in the awesome dress I bought for it.
You might remember you were going to do this the week before. So much changes in a year, and so many things can get in the way, even of a relatively easy target like this. Eight months is plenty of time to lose weight, but it’s also plenty of time to get complacent and forget about it.
(But if you want to keep on the ball about it… This comes back to SMART goals. Decide on targets for each month and work towards them regularly. This will keep the goal in your mind, plus, it’s much easier to take small steps towards even a small goal.)