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Why Your Resolutions Will Fail

Why your resolutions will fail.
Are your resolutions designed to fail?

On December 31st, lots of people make promises about their future that they call New Year's Resolutions. Most will fail. It's not that they aren't made with good intentions, it's just that the promises typically aren't structured in a way that makes sense. See if your resolutions have one of these fatal flaws.

Flaw #1: You make grand and unrealistic promises. It's one thing to decide you're going to lose 10 pounds in a month. But resolving to eat healthy every meal, workout five days a week, get more sleep and run a marathon in sixty days may be unrealistic.

Choose no more than one or two things that are manageable for a month. Maybe you resolve to eat a healthy breakfast for 30 days, or bring your lunch to work, or visit a gym twice a week. Make a simple measurable resolution, then layout the steps you need to achieve it. By focusing on small simple steps, you dramatically increase your chances of success. Only after you achieve the first goal, should you decide what the next one will be.

Flaw #2: Your resolution is the same one you've been making for years. Thinking somehow "this time will be different" is delusional. It's time to take a look at what you want to accomplish.

To lose weight, you have to either exercise more or eat less. Don't make a vague promise that you're going to go on a diet. Layout a plan of how you're going to eat fewer calories or get to the gym. If you can't make one of those fundamental changes, perhaps you should consider another resolution.

Flaw #3: You refuse to track your progress. You resolve to lose weight, but don't actually weigh yourself to make sure it's working. That means when you start, you have to find out your weight and body fat, then check back regularly to see that you're moving forward.

Without scheduling that recurring check-in period, you don't have a yardstick that you can use to measure progress. When you regularly get feedback, you can figure out early what's working. It also serves as a warning system so you know when things aren't going the way you wanted. Use the information to adjust your plan accordingly.

Flaw #4: You only resolve to change at the beginning of the year, the month or the week. That means if your first attempt doesn't work, you give yourself permission to quit until the next significant date.

Remember that change can be made whenever you want. It's perfectly acceptable to start on a Wednesday, on the 15th of the month or in the middle of the year. There's nothing magical about January 1st. If you're reading this column in September, that shouldn't stop you from putting a plan into action. Then when those significant dates do roll around, you can celebrate your successes instead of just getting started.

Flaw #5: You're trying to change for someone else and not yourself. To make change, your commitment must remain strong. It's much harder when the motivation is on someone or something external.

Decide what you want to do for yourself. Think about things that will have a meaningful impact and improve your life. Losing weight may be important for your health, but maybe you first need to find a way to get more rest because you're always tired. Instead of resolving to go on a diet, maybe you simply schedule going to bed 30 minutes earlier. Small changes for big impact.

When you make the decision, don't do it alone. Share it with a family member, friend or loved one. You're not doing it for them, but to hold yourself accountable. Ask someone you respect, hopefully one who has already accomplished what you're trying to do. When you feel like giving up, call for guidance and support. Nobody can achieve your goals for you, but it's nice to have someone help when you need it.

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CAUTION: Check with your doctor before
beginning any diet or exercise program.