You can see them in the park, you can see them in the swimming pool, you can see them in the gym and in yoga classes. The New Year’s Resolutions. At no time in the year these places are so overcrowded as in the first week of January. The swimming pool is so full, that it’s barely possible to have a somehow normal training. It’s rather a combination of an obstacle course and martial arts in the water. But every time I get annoyed about this – I take a deep breath and just look forward to January 15th when it all be normal again.
Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
(This quote, by the way, is by and large credited to Einstein, however there is no proof that he has ever used this expression). It doesn’t really matter here though as it perfectly serves the purpose of describing the insanity of New Year’s resolutions. If you didn’t keep your exercise routine (or any other resolution you made) longer than for the first 2 weeks of the year in 2015, 2016, 2017 and 18, what makes you think that 2019 will be so different? Let me tell you – it will not. New Year’s resolutions just don’t work for many reasons.
We don’t really want them
The main problem with the New Year’s resolutions is – they’re not about what we really want, but what the society expects us to want. Quit smoking, do more sports, stop eating meat, save more money. Of course – these are very desirable outcomes. But do we really want this change or do we just think that we have to change it? Where do these resolutions come from? Is it the peer pressure, the spouse/partner or our super-ego (check out Freud if you don’t know this one ;)) or do we really want it= If we feel that we have to, without wanting it, it will just feel like an annoying obligation and we will be relieved to give them up.
Our goals are not SMART
In business I always recommend my clients to set SMART goals. What does it mean? SMART goals are smart because they are: Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-bound. Even if I really have this intrinsic motivation to get fit again – „getting fit“ is not really SMART – it might be realistic and achievable, but it’s not specific, measurable, and time bound. A SMART goal would be for example to run 3 times a week: Tuesday, Thursday, Sunday for 30 minutes in the next 2 months. Going to the theatre once a week for half a year might be specific, measurable and time bound, but for me it’s not realistic and achievable as I know that I will have just other priorities.
We get disappointed
The result of having goals that are not SMART or sometimes even having goals that are SMART but we just didn’t manage to achieve them is that we get disappointed. And getting disappointed usually directly leads to quitting. Once I have set myself a goal to become six-pack abs. The problem is – even if I only have 15% body fat – basically all these 15% are in my belly. It has always been like that. I could maybe could have reached it anyway, but for that I’d have to give up all the things I like (like wine and nice food) and do ridiculous amounts of abs training. As I didn’t see the expected results after two months, I was totally disappointed and gave up the training. What I decided not to see was, that I was fitter, my core got stronger and my body looked better. But – I didn’t have six-pack abs… Next time I decided to try a different approach and started focusing on small habit changes and small achievements, focusing on successes and not disappointments.
The best time to start is now
And by now – I don’t mean the beginning of the year. I mean now – whenever it is. If you have an deep motivation to change and you set yourself SMART goals – why the hell do you need to wait until January 1st? Why not start on March 3rd or August 25th or December 27th? Why have this socially acceptable procrastination method called „New Year’s resolutions“ stop you from starting the change the moment you decide to do so?
F… New Year’s resolutions!