Why New Year's Resolutions Fail (Hint: Start TODAY Instead)
by Live Better
There is a good chance if you’re reading this you’ve already made a New Year's resolution this year. The problem is, like every year, they simply don’t work. In fact, there’s a great chance you don’t even remember (specifically) what you promised to change in 2018. Life gets in the way, early and often.
There is also a good chance if you’re reading this you’ve made a New Year’s resolution around your health. The irony of it all is what happens the night before on 12/31. Can you recall the last time you stayed out late, drank a lot, ate a lot, were given off work, and then proceeded to wake up early, crush your workout, be productive, and practice some self-care?
Nope. You stayed in bed, hungover, or worse off you tried using the hair of the dog. Unfortunately, your body doesn’t reset itself at midnight! What you do the night before affects you the morning after (that’s why “I’ll start over on Monday” doesn’t work either).
We set ourselves up to fail on DAY ONE.
We have no momentum, no discipline, and lack motivation as a quick spark to get going. Knowing what we know about consistency, it gets very difficult to stay on track when we can’t even commit to the first day of the year.
In order to change this in 2020, you’re going to commit to two goals:
1. Commit to Day One - no matter what happens on New Year’s Eve, you are waking up (no excuses) and getting the job done.
2. Commit to specified check-ins throughout the year by creating micro, meso, and macro goals and adding them to your calendar before January 1st.
Once you’ve settled on a New Year’s resolution (something “S.M.A.R.T.”), it’s time to break it down into bite size chunks. What people truly lack is structure and an executable plan; mission fatigue starts to set in when work and life gets in the way. “Lose weight” is hard to follow when you have no relative context for where you started, where you are, and where you want to go.
The commitment to Day One is an important checkpoint as it solidifies an early win. You’re much more likely to skip your resolution duties on January 2nd if you let it slip on January 1st. Block out some time during the day for your micro goal and celebrate this first win.
The Micro Goal(s)
These are your daily duties to follow your New Year’s resolution. “Lose 20lbs. by July 1st, 2019” starts with some action on January 1st and continues every single day until then. You can’t procrastinate and lose it all June 30th like you try and do everything else in your life.
Micro goals are the daily habits you instill via your Morning or Evening Routine. They create the discipline and momentum required to make these changes permanent; they are the foundation of making a lifestyle change, not sprinting towards an unsustainable short-term goal.
The reflection point: keep a daily journal. This allows you to monitor your progress on a daily schedule, note challenges and successes, and capture emotions (especially in the first 21-30 days) that you may need help overcoming in the future for other difficult endeavors.
For our 2019 Chicago Marathon goal, we’re bringing back the “One Mile A Day” challenge. Simply put, no matter where you are in the world or what you have going on, get your one mile in. You can use a treadmill, run outside, run the hallway in your hotel room, or walk if you have to, but no skipping your one mile (lots of days will have plenty more, however).
The Meso Goals
These are your monthly and quarterly duties. Ideally, they are checkpoints we set up to monitor long(er)-term progress. They also allow us to adjust our micro goals (and actions) if they are not producing the intended result. If you didn’t step on the scale after 30 days, how would you measure your goal? These are mildly flexible targets, depending on the results you’re getting.
The reflection point: check-in with a coach or community. This allows you to receive objective feedback (we talked about this last week!) alongside your daily journal. It provides an additional spark of motivation and social support when we lose sight of our long-term goal OR we lose the honeymoon phase enthusiasm we had on Day One. Add these check-ins (before 12/31) to your calendar and outsource part of the review to a coach or community.
For our 2019 Chicago Marathon goal, we’re setting up races throughout the year as time trial check-in points, like the Shamrock Shuffle, Rock & Roll Half Marathon, Chicago Triathlon, and the Chicago Half Marathon. It’s also really helpful to simulate race day emotions and monitor a smaller result before attempting the full.
What kind of “check-in races" can you create for your big goal?
The Macro Goal
Notice that this is “goal” and not “goals”; we must singularly define what we’re after and refuse to lose sight of it. We must be reminded of the mission many times throughout the year, and find ways to recommit when it gets difficult. We get lost in the day to day minutiae of life and often forget to zoom out to check where we are in our journey.
The macro goal is THE goal - it’s the excuses when we must break from the crowd, the excuse we make to trick ourselves into the right decision, and the excuse to drive us forward instead of astray when it gets tough. We’ve got our daily habits, our monthly and quarterly check-ins, all of which are pointing us in the direction of success.
We also must be reminded of this goal every single day. Get it painted on your wall or etch it into the bathroom mirror - make it visible, noticeable, and part of your daily routine to look at it. This frame below contains the training outline starting November 2018 for the October 2019 marathon...it's on my desk where I see it every single day.
The reflection point: a year end review (or, the day after completion of your macro goal). We often take time at the end of a year to review how it went, but it’s from a very blurred perspective. We don’t have the daily journal to look back through, the monthly conversations with a coach to listen to, or the quarterly events to critique, so we tell ourselves a story about how it went. Put the date in your calendar right now.
For our 2019 Chicago Marathon goal, we’re breaking the three hour mark. Sunday, October 13th, 2019 we’ll be standing downtown Chicago looking at a race results board with a “2” in front of our times. We’ll have a journal full of race notes, monthly and quarterly race results to review from shorter events, and blueprint to do it again should we want to.
This year, your New Year’s resolution starts today. If you’re not quite sure what it is you’d like to accomplish yet (specifically), look at something you can measure, track, and realistically commit to. Just like how the night of 12/31 affects the morning of 1/1, the year 2019 will affect how you behave and live in 2020; not every goal has a one-year shelf life. In the journey of life, your macro goal now will become a meso goal on a longer timeline.
Don’t lose sight of the progress we’re after to simply be better than we were yesterday. Share with us your 2019 resolutions and let us know how we can help you achieve them!