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4 New Year’s Resolution Mistakes You Make (And How to Fix Them)


Here we are again. Doesn’t it seem like it was just New Year’s?

Think back to one year ago …

What was happening in your life? What were you aspiring to do or change?

Did those changes actually happen?

If not, don’t worry. You’re certainly not alone. Statisticians tell us that only about 8 percent of people successfully accomplish their resolutions.

Eight percent!

Wow, that is depressing. Maybe it’s not worth making resolutions at all? Or, maybe it’s time to rethink the way you make those resolutions?

Avoid the Biggest Resolution Mistakes

While very few people actually succeed in keeping their resolutions, it’s important to understand that it’s not you (or me) that’s the problem. It’s the way we make resolutions that’s the problem.

With a few tweaks to your approach, you can avoid these common resolution mistakes, and finally set goals that will happen.

1. Mistake #1: Putting Too Much Pressure On Yourself

Year after year, “lose weight” is reported as one of the top resolutions for the New Year. This is a great goal, but just how much weight is the average person looking to lose?

Every day I speak with people who are looking to lose 30, 50 or even 100 pounds. While that’s certainly doable, it’s a long road and a lot of work ahead.

Choosing resolutions that are so onerous puts a lot of pressure on yourself to perform. Even the slightest slip-up can have you questioning, “I’m never going to make it, so why try?”

If you are someone who has consistently gained a few pounds annually for the past decade, committing to lose all that weight in a single year might be too much pressure. It took years to put it on, so it might take a while to get it off. Be patient.

Instead of aiming to lose 50 pounds this year, why not start smaller with a goal of losing 5 pounds this month? Once you’ve reached that first goal, then you can re-evaluate where you want to go next. You’ll have one win under your belt and will likely feel much more motivated to continue.

Mistake #2: Not Getting Down to Specifics

Here are the top 3 resolutions from last year:

  • Enjoy life to the fullest
  • Live a healthier lifestyle
  • Lose weight

What problem do all of these goals have in common?

They are far too general.

Imagine you committed to “lose weight” in 2017. Would you be happy if you lost 1 pound all year? After all, this technically would fulfill your resolution … you lost a pound!

No, I suspect you were looking for something a little more dramatic.

I often tell my clients, “What gets planned is what gets done.” It’s true — without a specific plan in place, it’s naïve to expect anything in your life to ever change. So, it’s time to make some specific plans that can be attached to your resolutions this year.

Here’s an example of a weight-loss resolution that I’d recommend:

“I’m going to lose 5 pounds in January. To do this, I will walk for 30 minutes each day during my lunch break. And, instead of eating cereal for breakfast, I’m going to have a green smoothie.”

Your specific goal might sound different, but you get the idea. The end goal is here, as are some action steps that will lead to that goal.

Mistake #3: Not Including Others In Your Plan

This one should be a no-brainer, but far too many people make their resolutions, and try to carry them out, alone. It just doesn’t work. We all perform better when we work with others.

A great example of the power of changing together was shown in a study published in The Society of Behavioral Medicine. In the study, participants were split into three groups: Solo Exercisers (SE), Virtual Buddies (VB), Workout Buddies (WB).

As you can likely tell from the group names, Solo Exercisers trained alone, Virtual Buddies trained with a partner via Skype, and Workout Buddies trained side-by-side with a partner.

Each group trained on a stationary bike, and was asked to pedal to achieve a particular heart rate. Once the participants reached their target heart rate, the researchers timed how long they could maintain that pace. The results were astonishing …

The SE group participants held their pace for 10.6 minutes, while the VB maintained it for 19.8 minutes, and the WB held on for 21.9 minutes. Yes, just by having a partner working alongside them, the WB group outperformed the SE group by 107 percent. Incredible!

This will be true for you as well. When setting your resolutions, recruit a friend or family member to do it alongside you. It will be more fun, you’ll be more committed and your chances of success will skyrocket.

Mistake #4: Giving Up Too Quickly

If you have a perfectionist side to you (as I do!), then you know how it feels to fail. It doesn’t sit very at all. In fact, most people (me again) would rather give up altogether than to persist at something that they don’t feel very competent at.

We like to do things that we’re good at.

Here’s the problem …

If you’re already good at something, chances are you’re not making a New Year’s resolution about it!

It takes time to develop new habits, or to build up skills that you didn’t have before. Nobody succeeds overnight, and expecting instant results, with any resolution, is a surefire way to set yourself up to quit.

This ties back in with Mistake #3 — surrounding yourself with people who want to see you succeed can be so helpful. When you don’t see progress happening, they might.

Some clients I work with look in the mirror so frequently that they overlook how much their bodies have changed. Then they see a friend for the first time in a few weeks and get such a positive reaction: “Wow, you look great! What have you been doing?”

Those positive reinforcements might not come every day, so it’s important to start with a long-term mindset. You’re aiming to improve your life little by little, and you won’t give up when things get tough or when results seem to be happening too slowly.

Want Some Help With Your Resolutions?

If losing a few pounds is one of your goals for 2017, we’d love to help. On January 9, we’re launching a health and fitness program called the FBG 10 in 4 Challenge that will give you the guidance and accountability you need to see some serious changes this year.

Click here to save your spot. We’re excited to help you make this year one that’s full of successful resolutions! —Dave

Dave Smith is a professional fitness and weight-loss coach who was chosen as “Canada’s Top Fitness Professional” in 2013. He shares awesome health and weight-loss tips through his blog and podcast that you can find at makeyourbodywork.com.

FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!