Your new year’s resolutions are useless. Not because you picked the wrong ones. Not because they’re not worthwhile, and not because there’s something wrong with your either. Your new year’s resolutions are useless because chances are you’re not going to actually do them.
Research into the subject shows us that most resolutions are doomed to failure, in fact most don’t make it 6 months. They persist for a while but then falter and die. This happens because:
- They demand too much time
- They demand too much effort
- They demand too much self-control/willpower
- They are too complex
- They interfere with social life or go against lifestyle
- They interfere with the lives of those around you/your peers
There’s other reasons of course, such as expense etc but you get the idea, your new year’s resolutions (NYRs) have to compete with all the other activities and pressures on your time, mental and physical resources. This means you start out of the gate hard full of good intentions and then stumble and fall.
For the most stark example of this go to a gym at the end of January and then come back at the same time of the day 3 months later and you’ll find under half the people there were before. The gym based example is a good one because of course most NYRs involve improvement, more specifically losing the gut, getting fitter, getting healthier etc. We know the best way to go about doing this is attacking four areas:
- Improve diet
- Increase physical and metabolic fitness through exercise
- Decrease stress
- Get more sleep
In a perfect world you would work on all of them at once, however that requires time and willpower in shovel loads and in the real world you often don’t have this.
So here’s what you do:
Just. Do. One. Thing
Starting small with resolutions is a big thing, it means you’ll be able to sustain the effort. Think about it, how long did it take you to get out of shape? Months and years? So why should you be able to put the right in a few weeks? Pick something simple and effective and go for it, safe in the knowledge that you will see results in time.
I like the principle of intermittent fasting as it’s a simple and easy way for people to improve diet. I like it the D.O.D.O. way because you can tailor it to needs and people not only get the benefits of fasting but they also improve their diet by altering tastes without any extra effort as well.
Effort versus result is important, so picking easy effective actions is crucial. Here’s a list of 5 things that you could do starting tomorrow:
- Fast once a week the D.O.D.O. way (see the book for details)
- Go to bed 30 minutes earlier each evening
- Do a 25 minutes weights circuit twice a week (20 minutes of working your way round various challenging compound resistance exercises stopping only when you absolutely have to, plus a 5 minute warm up)
- Drink more water, displacing sugary drinks as you do so.
- Meditate for 3 minutes every other day, or I that’s too new age for you walk for 10 minutes somewhere green.
These are small sustainable changes, no ‘gym every morning’, or day-in day-out diets. Small changes that get maximum results. You just have to pick which is right for your needs and stick with it.
Small changes repeated often add up to big results.
References and further reading:
Norcross, J.C., Mrykalo, M.S., & Blagys, M.D. (2002). Auld lang syne: Success predictors, change processes, and self-reported outcomes of New Year’s resolvers and nonresolvers. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 58(4), 397-405.