It’s that time of year again. Time to sit down and review the last year. What went well? What positive habits did you start? What did you accomplish? Did you succeed with your diet resolutions? And if you missed a step or downright failed, what did you learn from your mistakes?
Next, of course, is to look at the upcoming year with new 2020 vision. What will you change, what will you do differently, what are your new diet resolutions, what will you accomplish? How, that is, will you make this year better than the last? Said differently, how will you get better this year?
I love doing this exercise every year—and following up every quarter. Celebrating the successes from the previous year and learning from the mistakes I’ve made help me look toward the future with renewed hope and excitement.
How Many Resolutions Fail?
Yet, I also know the depressing statistic from U.S. News & World Report that something like 80% of the folks who make New Year’s resolutions—from diet resolutions to starting a workout routine to saving more money and more—have already abandoned those resolutions by the second week of February. And University of Scranton Psychology Professor John C. Norcross estimates the success rate is even lower, with just 10% of resolutions ever being achieved.
Even for an optimist, those stats are pretty depressing. Why even bother to set resolutions to begin with?
You may wonder if it’s just that folks aren’t setting the right types of goals. Maybe their goals are just too BIG? Surprisingly, however, how big (i.e., BHAG or “big hairy audacious goal”) or how small (and easily attainable) a goal is doesn’t change the success rate much. Instead, there are several common mistakes that can virtually guarantee your New Year’s resolution— especially diet resolutions—will fail.
Here’s what to watch for, and more importantly, how you can overcome them to improve your odds this year!
10 Reasons Your New Year’s Resolutions Will Fail
1. You rely on an outside-in approach
There’s an old saying: “It’s not the horse that draws the cart; it’s the oats.” How does that relate to a weight-loss or diet resolution? It’s not the gym membership, bootcamp, exercise class, diet, or supplement that will change you. It’s you—your mindset, your motivation, and your why.
Everyone has a why, or a reason they’re setting out to achieve a goal in the first place. This is the purpose or belief that inspires you. It’s the filter that allows you to make the decisions that will help you reach your goals.
Your why is what keeps you going when you just want to sleep in and skip a workout. It provides the discipline when faced with the temptation to eat something that isn’t going to nourish your body but rather prevent you from reaching your diet resolution.
Nietzsche perhaps said it best, “If we have our own why in life, we shall get along with almost any how.”
How do you find your why?
It’s simple but not necessarily easy. Start by blocking out some alone time to do some serious soul searching. Your reasons for going on this journey are yours alone. You can’t find them by asking others or by just giving the first answer that comes to mind.
One of the best techniques to find your why is known as “The 5 Whys,” which encourages you to go past the surface reasons to drill down into the core.
- Step 1: Write down your goal.
- Step 2: Ask yourself why you want to accomplish that goal.
- Step 3: Ask yourself if this is really the root—the reason you want to accomplish that goal. If not, ask yourself why again.
- Step 4: Repeat until you get to the core why.
Your example might be something like:
- Step 1: I want to get in better shape.
- Step 2: Why? Because I can’t keep up with my kids (or grandkids), so I don’t play with them.
- Step 3: Why do I want to keep up with my kids? Because I want to spend quality time with them and be a positive role model.
- Step 4: Why? Because my mom had heart disease and was often sick or didn’t have the energy to spend time with us. She would typically stay home alone, and I really missed her. I don’t want my kids to feel that way about me.
Keep asking why until something really grabs you and makes you think, “That’s it!”
Once you get to your core why, post it where you’ll see it multiple times and places throughout the day. If you feel like it’s too personal to post where everyone can see it, use one single word or phrase that triggers you to think of your why. In the example above, it could just be “my kids.”
2. You self-sabotage
Many of us find ourselves excited and ready to make a change, only to eventually sabotage ourselves and rob us of success—especially once we notice benefits. And most of us never realize we’re self-sabotaging or why!
To unlock change, we have to understand our own mindset, values, beliefs, habits, and fears. And by uncovering those and making a commitment to a more profound change—again, going into the deep recesses of the mind—we can start making other changes.
In other words, the consciousness needs to change before behavior can transform.
Consciousness is a combination of our thoughts, energy, beliefs, and experiences. Fortunately, if life isn’t going the way you want it to, your current reality does not have to be your permanent reality.
If you really want to change, it’s time to kick those old thoughts, actions, and beliefs to the curb to embrace a new state of being. In other words, it’s time to change the stories you tell about yourself.
It can be a fun process of self-discovery as you accept that your current state is no longer working, acceptable, or necessary. Instead, you can choose the person you want to become and begin acting and behaving as if you are already that person.
For example, as you’re getting ready to stop at the drive-thru (seemingly on auto-pilot), if your goal is to lose 10 pounds, ask yourself if that’s what a fit, healthy person would do. If the answer is no, ask what that person would choose to do instead. Then “act” as if you’re already the person you wish to be.
It’s like taking out a metaphorical pen and editing how the character (i.e., you) reacts to various scenarios. You may even want to take out a real pen to write your current story and then rewrite it for the new you.
Another reason many people self-sabotage is because many of us are afraid of change. Even when we say that we want to lose weight, earn more money, or become more social, for example, we won’t let ourselves do it if we’re afraid of what the change could bring. Or perhaps we’re scared we’re fundamentally flawed and unable to reach our goals or undeserving of success and happiness. And that causes us to hold back and find ways to sabotage our success.
We may also be afraid of leaving loved ones behind who have been there for us in the past—we’re worried we’ll make others look or feel badly—or even drive them to leave us. Often, however, our success can help them see new possibilities for themselves.
Thus, it’s important to cultivate positive and empowering beliefs about what we’re capable of, including creating the behaviors and foundations for long-term success.
One surprisingly easy and effective method is to continually remind yourself that you are enough, and you are worthy. For example, write “I am enough” or “I am worth it” on your bathroom mirror, on a post-it at your computer, and as a reminder on your phone to help you begin to change how you think about and talk to yourself. Every time you see the reminder, repeat it, out loud, when possible.
3. You lack support and accountability
If you want to change, please don’t try to go it alone. Social support and accountability can be magical when it comes to diet resolutions and transformation. I’ve spoken with many of our past BioTRUST Transformation Challenge Champions, like Pam, Danielle, Howard, Tammy, Doug, and Christina, and every single one of them said they could not have done it alone. They all depended on the support and accountability of others in the BioTRUST VIP Private Facebook Group, including the access to free coaching, the accountability of the Monday weigh-ins, and the overall significance of the shared experience.
The bigger your goals, the more you need somebody (or a group of somebodies) to hold you accountable—especially as the excitement fades. The right support will encourage you to see what you can’t see about yourself and your potential to succeed. And others’ successes can inspire and fuel your own efforts; if they can do it, so can you! Find people who believe in you and offer honest yet supportive feedback. They can also help you find the right tools and strategies to help push you to the next level. They empower you and don’t let you bail on yourself and your goals.
And you may even find that you build lifelong friendships, especially with those who are accomplishing their goals right alongside you.
When it comes to accomplishing diet resolutions, one of the best, most supportive groups around is the BioTRUST VIP Private Facebook Group. There, you can find supportive coaches, challenges to help hold you accountable, and a group of people who have “been there, done that” as well as folks who are where you are now. You’ll likely even find people who need advice only you can provide.
4. You think your diet resolution is an event
If you have a big goal in mind, you may want it all and want it all right now. So, you’re going to put in 100% and change everything… only to burn out within a couple of weeks. It may not be as sexy, but for many, slow and steady really does win the race. You can only sprint so hard for so long. Yet reaching your goals—and perhaps more importantly, maintaining them—is more often like a marathon, and it takes stamina, endurance, patience, and training to accomplish it. And it’s not just about training the body. It’s also about training the mind.
One of the best ways to train your mind and body for success is to start small and build trust in yourself and the process. For example, instead of deciding to run five miles every day, set a goal of just putting on your running shoes and walking out the door for the first couple of weeks.
As you continue to do that every day, you’ll naturally start to put some miles on your shoes without intimidating you or building internal resistance. Instead of deciding you’ll drink a gallon of water every day, create a habit of filling up your water bottle every morning and taking it with you when you leave the house.
In other words, start with a goal that’s so easy, you can’t fail. You can always add a little more if you’re feeling up to it, but set the bar so low that you can hit the target even on your toughest days. Then add one positive habit per week or month as the year goes on, to truly build a solid foundation (and trust in yourself).
5. You fail to take action
This one may seem obvious, but many folks get so involved in the planning…and that’s where it ends. No matter how great your diet or exercise plan, your budget, or your self-help bookshelf is, if you don’t eat those vegetables, put on your gym clothes, add a dollar to savings, or read a single page, you won’t ever reach your goal.
Yes, finding inspiration, educating yourself, and gaining wisdom are essential, but only if they’re applied. Instead of thinking that “knowledge is power,” remind yourself that “applied knowledge is power.” You need to put all those ideas and planning into action!
One way to do so is to attach your new habit to an existing, already well-established practice. For example, to increase your activity level, when you pull into your parking lot at work (an existing habit), park two rows farther from the door. When you start your coffee machine, take a few minutes to focus on your breathing and meditate. Or, when you walk into the kitchen in the morning, make a high-protein smoothie with spinach or kale.
You’ll also help set yourself up for success by choosing a time and place for your new activity. For example, researchers found that when students told them when and where they were planning on working out the following week, the students were much more likely to work out than those who just intended to “exercise more.”
6. You hate the process
Let’s say you have discovered that HIIT stair-stepping is the fastest way to burn calories, so you resolve to make that your exercise of choice. The only problem is, you absolutely hate it. (It’s not just me, right?) You’d rather do anything than hit that stair climber. Then don’t. If you love to take a walk in nature, lift heavy weights, do machine circuits, and so on (or all of the above), then please do yourself a favor and do that instead. Because then you’ll actually do it.
The same goes for diet. We don’t recommend severely restrictive diets anyway, but if you’re no fan of potatoes, then don’t go on some potato diet. Choose a healthy plan that suits your lifestyle and your taste preferences. There are many healthy diet options to choose from, such as:
- The Keto Diet
- The Dash Diet
- The Slow-Carb Diet
- Carb Cycling
- The Paleo Diet Plan
- A Low-Carb Diet
- The Mediterranean Diet
- Or one of the most popular—The 3-Week Diet, which is free with any purchase of BioTRUST’s Low Carb Protein Powder Blend or Harvest™ Complete Vegan Plant Protein Powder Blend
Or, you can also create your own diet plan that makes you feel energized and healthy, focusing on real, whole, nutrient-dense foods.
Life is meant to be lived and meant to be pleasurable. Don’t think that to be successful that you have to give up everything you love or that brings you pleasure. The more you tell yourself you “can’t” or “shouldn’t,” the more difficult it will become to resist it.
Instead, stay on track with positive choices at least 80 to 90% of the time, and then allow an occasional planned indulgence so you can truly enjoy the process as well as the results. And start with a diet that suits you and an activity you enjoy doing. Then focus on doing it more consistently.
7. You don’t track your progress
As the saying goes, “What gets measured gets improved.” Know where you’re starting. And as you build on those habits mentioned earlier, keep track of how often you’re successfully completing them. You can use an old-fashioned calendar, a simple habit-tracking app on your phone, or even a notebook.
The point is to focus on continuous, incremental improvements throughout the year—not just the first few weeks of the year! James Clear, the author of Atomic Habits, explains this concept well in his “1% rule.” While there may be little in the way of gains at first, positive (and negative) habits compound over time. As Clear states, “If you get one percent better each day for one year, you’ll end up 37 times better by the time you’re done.”
In addition, instead the forward-facing measures typical of big diet resolutions (like losing 25 pounds over the next 90 days), Clear recommends measuring backward. That is, making your decisions based on what you are already doing, not on what you hope to change in the future. For example, if weight loss is your goal and you’re currently averaging eating 2,500 calories per day, next week, shoot for averaging just 2,400 calories per day. If you’re currently doing squats with 25-pound dumbbells for 15 reps, try 30 pounds this week.
By tracking your progress, you’ll know both where you are and what small changes you can make for drastic improvements in the future. A year later, you’ll be astonished by the difference these little changes can make!
8. You have unrealistic expectations
You want to be perfect, right? If not all the time, at least most of the time. Unfortunately, you aren’t, I’m not, and no human is! So, demanding that you’re 100% perfect when setting out on your diet resolutions can just lead to exhaustion, burnout, and a “why bother” attitude. (How many times can you disappoint yourself and still trust yourself?)
While you may want to set a new habit of hitting the gym every day, no matter what, life does happen. People get sick, deadlines take over, and relationships need attention. Rather than focusing on “perfection,” a better way to stay on track is known as the “2-day rule.”
This rule allows you to miss the occasional healthy meal, workout, or whatever interrupts your goals. However, if you miss your daily habit one day, you’ll then do your absolute best not to miss it two days in a row.
Let’s say, for example, your goal is to never miss going to the gym or taking a walk on your lunch break. Good for you! However, if you weren’t able to fit in your workout on Wednesday because of that lunch meeting or you missed your walk because of that blizzard, there’s no need to beat yourself up. Instead, you just ensure you make it happen on Thursday. By doing your best never to miss two days in a row, you’re less likely to get into the mindset that you missed a workout, so you might as well start over again next Monday, or next month, or next year. You just start again tomorrow—because you don’t miss two days in a row. That’s just the kind of person you are.
The same is true of your diet. So, you grabbed that pint of ice cream on the way home and devoured it while catching up on the new season of your favorite show. That’s okay. Tomorrow, you’ll do your absolute best to stick to your healthy eating plans and have a high-protein dessert if you’re craving something sweet. (You’ll also likely discover how much better you feel the next morning!)
The rule may sound inconsequential, but it can be highly effective!
9. Your goal (and attitude) is negative
It’s easy to set a “negative” goal, such as to stop eating bad food, stop wasting time and money, stop being lazy. Yet, this can make you focus on the very thing you actually want to avoid.
Instead, start focusing your goals on what you want to do rather than what you don’t want to do. Just by reframing your goal, you can impact your behavior and action. If junk food calls your name, stop bringing your attention to it by telling yourself to stop eating junk food.
Remind yourself that you’ll enjoy a piece of fruit and some nuts for today’s snack instead. Take it one step further by placing your delicious, nutritious snack right in front of you—either on your desk, on your kitchen counter, or front and center in the fridge.
10. You don’t really want it
Let’s face it, people “should” on us all the time. You should go on a diet, save more money for retirement, start going to the gym, get a new job. Yet, if your resolution stems from someone else’s expectations and isn’t something that really matters to you, then you aren’t going to be able to keep it.
Your goals need to be all yours. No matter how well-meaning the people are around you—including society, the media, parents, partners, bosses, teachers, bloggers, and so on—if you are setting your goals to make them happy, then they’ll quickly fall by the wayside. Go back to your deeply-rooted why. If it’s to make someone else happy, then go back to the drawing board and find a goal that you really want to accomplish for yourself.
10 Reasons Why Your Resolutions Will Fail: A Recap
Change isn’t easy. But it’s also far from impossible. You may need to rewrite your own story, convince yourself that you’re worth it, and start taking little steps to prove to yourself that you can do it.
It’s easy to think you’ll be part of the statistics of failure, but with the right methods and mindset discussed above, you are changing the odds so they’ll be ever in your favor. Just a minuscule 1% improvement today can lead to one of the most transformative years ever. (Let that set in for just a second, please.)
Reaching your goal isn’t an event; it’s a process—a process that you need to take action on throughout the entire year.
No matter how SMART a goal is, it isn’t infallible. There’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Instead, take a look at your goals and allow yourself to learn and play this year—play with what works, what doesn’t, and how you can make strong progress toward the person you are growing to become. You’ve got this!
Whatever you have planned for this upcoming year, rest assured, we’ll be here for you every step of the way with support, encouragement, accountability, and education!
Here’s to an even brighter, happier, fitter, and healthier year and life!