Why Your New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Stick

So you set a resolution this year. Maybe it’s fitness related, maybe it’s not. (It’s probably fitness related.)

And you probably set a similar resolution last year.

And the year before that.

I’m guessing that they didn’t stick. Partially because you’re reading this article, and partially because most people forget about their resolutions well before December. Heck, most people forget about their resolutions in January.

But that’s not because resolutions can’t work! I’ve SEEN new year’s resolutions work. I’ve seen resolutions have a tremendously positive impact on many people’s lives. And I’ve seen people begin what ends up being a lifelong fitness journey based on a new year’s resolution.

So if you want to follow through on your fitness resolution (or really any resolution), you’ve come to the right place. Here are the reasons your resolutions don’t stick, and how to fix that!

Your Resolution is too Vague.

“Get healthy.” “Eat better.” “Tone up.” All popular resolutions. Here’s the problem: What do those even mean? There are a million different ways to define health, and how you define “get healthy” is going to depend on the areas where you are lacking, as well as your specific goals. “Get healthy” for me might mean walking more often, while “get healthy” for you might mean getting more sleep. “Eat better” for me might mean eating more vegetables, while for you it might mean eating more protein. “Tone up” for me might mean losing body fat, while for you it might mean putting on some muscle. It’s all relative! 

When deciding on your resolution, figure out what you want the outcome to be, and then figure out what steps you will need to take to get there. Maybe in order to get healthy, you’ll need to reduce stress, sleep for an extra hour/day, eat more vegetables, and stay active for X minutes each day. Now there’s a resolution! With something more specific to strive for, you’ll actually know if you’re on track to reach your goal.

You don’t have a plan.

This goes hand in hand with our first problem. Because, well, you can’t have a plan if you don’t actually know what your intended outcome is. Once you have a firm grasp on your resolution, it’s time to figure out what you actually need to do to get there, and take action! You’ll first want to make sure that you actually have all of the tools you need. This is an important step that many people rush or skip all together. Before you jump right into your resolution, make sure you have the groceries you need, any fitness equipment required, a gym membership if necessary, a scale if weight is part of the equation, activewear, and appropriate footwear. Of course, not all of these are necessary for every resolution, but you get the idea.

Once you’re actually ready to get started, it’s time to make sure you know what needs to be done day to day and week to week. You might want to get yourself a coach for this part, but of course that is up to you. How many workouts will you be hitting per week? What type of workouts? Is that sustainable for you? What will your meals look like? Will you be tracking macros? Following a meal plan? Using a list of recipes? Do you have the resources you need? How will your schedule need to change? Will you be taking measurements? Progress photos? These are all important things to think about as you map out your days, weeks, and months.

Your goal is unrealistic.

If you set a goal of losing 30 pounds in the month of January or going from couch to marathon by March, your resolution probably won’t work out. Setting goals that are nearly impossible to achieve can be incredibly discouraging. Losing 4 pounds in a month is an incredible accomplishment, but it won’t feel like much of an accomplishment if your goal was to lose 30. Running a 5k after a when you haven’t put on your running shoes all year is a huge accomplishment, but it won’t feel like one if your goal was a marathon.

Even if you do see progress initially, your results likely won’t be sustainable. If you opt for a starvation diet for weight loss, you might lose a ton of weight in the first month, but good luck keeping that up all year. And good luck maintaining your results. If you take an unsustainable approach, get ready to burn out and rebound back to your old ways. 

For sustainable results that will actually last you all year long (and beyond), be honest with yourself. What can you really commit to right now? How much progress can you actually expect to make this month, over the next 3 months, and over the next year? Have approaches that you’ve taken in the past worked? If they failed, why was that? How can you set yourself up for success?

You don’t really care about your goal.

Motivation will come and go, but your goal should be something that you really do care about achieving. Think about the driving forces for your goal. Is this something you actually care about, or are you feeling social pressure from friends or family to achieve this? If you have a weight loss goal, are you actually unhappy with your current weight, or are you feeling outside pressure to lose weight? Sometimes weight loss is healthy, but sometimes it’s not! If you set a running related goal, do you actually like running, or did you just assume it would be the most straightforward way to lose body fat? Because the good news is that there are a lot of ways to create a calorie deficit, and you absolutely do not need to run to make that happen! Bottom line is that there are a lot of different ways to do health and fitness, and finding one that makes you happy really is key for sustainability.

Bottom Line

It’s not too late to fine tune (or make) your new year’s resolution! Having clarity, direction, sustainability, and purpose built into your resolution can go a long way. The new year can be a great time to set some new goals and intentions, but let’s do it the right way this year!

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