People generally make three types of New Years Resolutions:
– Social (“I’m not going to spend Friday nights marathoning Supernatural again this year”)
– Moral (“I’m going to be a better person”)
– Health (“I’m going to start going to the gym”)
The health resolutions pretty much always fall into one of two categories
– Begin a new habit (going to the gym, eating healthier, etc)
– Ceasing a bad habit (stop smoking, stop eating junk food, etc)
The dangers, however, with setting New Years Resolutions is that most people set incredibly vague goals. When people talk about getting healthier, they’ll decide “I’m going to start eating better” or “I’m going to start going to the gym”. Okay, cool. That’s great.
Define ‘eating better’.
If I switch from eating pizza every night to hamburgers, is that eating better? What if I trade that pizza for salads exclusively? Does that mean cutting a meal, or eating six small meals instead of three big ones? Does that mean less red meat or no meat at all? Technically, just eating a plain doughnut instead of a chocolate-filled one is already eating better.
And define ‘going to the gym’. Are you going to start doing cardio or lifting weights? Are you going to take dance classes or attending power lifting seminars? Are you going to train like a bodybuilder or a strongman? Are you going to go to the gym three times a week or six times a week?
The trick to setting achievable goals is that they need to be specific. Set too vague of a goal and you’ll never achieve it, no matter how much progress you make. There is no diet upon this earth that cannot be made more healthy somehow. And it doesn’t matter how many times you go to the gym, there will be a training protocol that will necessitate going even more.
To quote the incomparable Yogi Berra, “If you don’t know where you’re going, you might not get there”.
If you want to set New Years Resolutions, that’s great. Go for it. But set something specific and manageable.
Instead of ‘I’m going to eat healthy’, go with ‘I’m going to follow this specific diet (whatever diet it might be)’.
Instead of ‘I’m going to start going to the gym’, go with ‘I’m going to go to the gym three times a week’ or ‘I’m going to follow this specific program’. I can even make a few suggestions.
If you want to be ambitious and totally overhaul your life, or make powerful changes, that’s fine too. But make sure you break it down into small steps that you can manage. Instead of ‘I’m going to quit smoking’, go with ‘I’m going to cut back on my smoking one cigarette at a time until I stop entirely’ (if you smoke 12 cigarettes a day, cut back to 11 cigarettes for January, 10 cigarettes in February, 9 in March, etc etc). Instead of ‘I’m going to eat health’ or even ‘I’m going to follow this specific diet’, go with ‘I’m going to follow this specific diet for breakfast only in January, then add lunch in March, dinner in May, etc).
A definitive goal and manageable steps make absolutely any ambition achievable with time. Don’t try to change your life in one go, on one day. Even if you take only one step a week towards your goals, that’s over fifty steps by the end of one year.
So Happy New Year! 🙂