Why I stopped making New Year’s Resolutions

It is the 2nd of January. If you are like most people, you are still following your New Year’s Resolutions to a T. I hate New Year’s Resolutions. I think it was 5 years ago when I officially decided to stop making any new New Year’s Resolutions. I used to write them down religiously, until one year the absurdity of the whole process occurred to me and I stopped. Here is why I label the process of setting New Year’s Resolutions as “absurd” and why I focus on small daily goals instead:

New Year’s Resolutions never last!

“Never” might be a strong word. I will say that 99.9% of the time, New Year’s Resolutions do not last. There are a few exceptions, but they are few and far between. Let us look at the 2 most popular New Year’s Resolutions as examples. They both fit in perfectly with the theme of this blog.

The first example is diet. How many people have a New Year’s Resolution that they will start eating healthy? Many people go on an extreme weight loss cleanse on the 1st day of the new year. They follow a calorie restricting low carb program and lose weight initially, but always end up far worse than where they started. I wrote a article about this recently.

The second example is exercise. Many people have the New Year’s Resolution that they will start exercising. I think that is awesome and I applaud the effort. Here is the problem… some people have not gone for a run around the block in the last 10 years and now they want to take on the first high intensity exercise program they can find online. If that sounds like you, then STOP. All that is going to happen is that you are going to get injured and end up not being able to do any exercise for a long time.

Before making New Year’s Resolutions, ask these questions:

  • Is it the right thing to do?

If the answer is yes, then you do not need to wait till the 1st day of the new year to do so. You should do so right away. It is always the right time to do the right thing. In my opinion, if you must wait until a certain date to do something, it is not a good sign that you are going to keep doing that thing in the future. The “Oh, I’ll do it in X amount of time” is the worst approach you can take. I remember when I quit coffee. I knew it was the right thing to do, so I did it. Every time I have delayed the onset of something or taken time in pursuing it, it has not worked out for the best.

  • Is it sustainable?

If you can do this thing you want to do for the rest of your life, then it is sustainable. If not, then you are wasting your time as failure is inevitable. You also need to be able to tell the difference between what is sustainable and what is not. Some things are sustainable, but they are not easy. A great example of this is how it is completely sustainable to eat an abundance of healthy food that will keep you feeling great and losing weight over the long term. It might be difficult to get into the habit of doing so, but it is not out of the question. What is not sustainable is eating 2000 calories a day and starving yourself to lose weight that took years to gain, in as little as a week or two. See the difference? It is completely sustainable to do a 10 kilometer run, if you current record is 8 kilometers. It is not sustainable to run a marathon tomorrow if you have never run more than 8 kilometers in your life. See the difference?

PS: While we are on this topic, cycling is the best workout for weight loss and long term fitness results. It is so much easier to get injured when you increase your running intensity and mileage, compared to cycling. I love running, but if my only goal was to lose weight and get fit then I would do nothing except cycling. It is just so good for those two things that nothing else comes close.

Forget about New Year’s Resolutions. Set goals instead!

I have goals for every single day. A daily goal for me can be as simple as “write 1 blog post” or “go for a ride”. What I love about daily goals is that they keep you accountable. They help you stay motivated every day you open your eyes. It is good to have a long term goal (or “vision”) of what you want to achieve, but if all you focus on is your END goal, it is easy to become despondent. Most long term goals take a long time to achieve. They require a lot of hard work and they are not easy. Instead of focusing on how far you need to go to reach your end goal, focus on enjoying the process. Learning to love the process is a big part of long term success. There is a saying, if you make something fun you take care of motivation.

Imagine if your end goal is to run a marathon, but you have never run before in your life. It will take a few years to build up the conditioning and fitness to run a marathon. You have the end goal of running a marathon at the back of your mind, but you need a thousand smaller goals to get there. A smaller goal would be to run your first 1km. Once you have done that, your next goal will be to run 2km. Before you know it you will be competing in your first 5km running race, then 10km, then your first half marathon and then eventually the big one!

If you did not see my post where I look back on 2020 and what lies ahead, you can read it here.




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