Why Resolutions Fail and How You Can Succeed…

Garage Strength

How many New Years resolutions have you failed?

Is it more impressive that my sister lost over 100 lbs or that she kept it off for 9 years?

You make those resolutions, you establish the main goals for the New Year, you tie the plan together and you are ready to roll. A precise thought process set up for personal growth, relationship growth, improvement in daily existence, it’s all established to provide success in the upcoming year. The first few days roll out and sure, it’s difficult but you are having solid success. Two weeks in and you start to get complacent, you start to fall back into old routines and by the end of the first month, everything is business as usual. But does it have to be this way? Are there better means to altering your lifestyle and personal choices?

Goals and Resolutions: Their Purpose and Failure

Dreams, goals, resolutions, these things all exist for a reason. We are constantly striving to make ourselves happier, to recognize personal progress and work toward specific goals. When difficult tasks are created and those tasks become accomplishments, the end result is typically joy and happiness. This is where goals and resolutions hold their foundation. They are meant to help with our human nature to become better individuals!

But why is it so easy to fail to uphold goals and resolutions? A quick google search shows us that less than half of resolutions last longer than 6 months and nearly 40% of resolutions fail within the first 30 days. But what gives? What makes them so difficult to build toward?

It’s important to understand the purpose. For centuries, religious groups have given up or set standards and goals for their various holidays. Think about fasting during Ramadan or Christians giving up something else during Lent, these are quick checks that various religious cultures have made during human existence. They are quick checks on priorities in life, what is important and they are fast means to pushing oneself out of their comfort zone. Resolutions are similar to this. They are a standard means of hopeful change.

This rides the coattails of goals. By creating goals on a daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, yearly fashion, we are able to strive toward something difficult and work to achieve those difficult standards. Goals and resolutions both spark individuals to strive toward a better version of themselves.

Where does the failure come into play? There is a clear lack of preparation! The vast majority of individuals are ill-equipped to actually plan a long term goal or resolution and see it executed accordingly over a long period of time. Consistently, middle aged people put their goals to the test by utilizing skills and lessons they learned during high school, forgetting the very fact that now they have full time jobs, a family, children, a mortgage and hundreds of other “life” aspects getting in their way!

These roadblocks lead to a feeling of failure, of negative judgment that results in a downward spiral of missed goals, missed resolutions and in most cases, a greater step backward. This step backward leads to further negative judgment, we think we are bad people for failing to accomplish goals, we ignite a negative internal dialogue that persists until the next “chance” arises to work toward established goals. But does it have to be this way?

Recognize the Journey

 “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.”   

 ― Lao Tzu

This quote rings true with every athlete, with every individual involved with business or fitness or who has a fulfilling lifestyle! This quote rings close to home. Specifically, in regards to my big sister, Kai.

Kai was always the boss of the house. She is the oldest of three siblings and was always leading my brother and I with life goals, accomplishments, academics, you name it, Kai was the leader. However, she consistently struggled in one area. Controlling her bodyweight. 

She had her first child and began to challenge herself with what type of mother she wanted to be for her daughter. Fortunately for me, she reached out almost ten years ago asking me to coach her in nutrition, to guide the beginnings of her new fitness journey and help her lose over 100lbs of bodyweight to optimize her path to fitness.

We established a solid means of communication, we worked on specific goals to work toward with fitness and nutrition and we slowly chipped away at those goals. Within 6-8 months, Kai had full control of her path. She knew what foods to prepare, she knew what to eat, she knew how much sleep she needed and she knew how much movement and training she could execute with her busy working lifestyle. 

She started to hit her goals, 20lbs lost, 30lbs lost, faster times in her triathlons, 40lbs down...then she got pregnant with her second child. Initially, I was concerned that this could lead to a relapse in her nutrition and eating. This was not even a question. She stayed active during her pregnancy by slightly altering her goals for her fitness journey.

I still remember the first few months of her second pregnancy that she was still LOSING weight because she was so focused on eating well and feeling better while preparing to give birth to her second daughter, Micah.

Kai took the journey and ran with it. She saw her life for what it was/is, she knew her goals needed to change slightly and that was OK! More often than not, if a pattern or challenge arises, we completely derail our patterns. We fall off the path and blame crazy instances in life and then the negative cycle occurs over and over. Not for Kai.

Micah was born and she stayed on track to continue working toward her weight loss, triathlon and strength goals. Goals don’t need to be static, they can be dynamic, adaptive focuses that lead to personal progress based around the given circumstance. 

This is one of the hardest lessons to learn as an adult, as a child, as a business owner, as a HUMAN! Roll with the punches, regroup, set standards and methods of accountability and keep pushing forward.

This is where Kai’s success can be found. Initially, her means of accountability was talking with me and establishing a healthier relationship with her health minded goals. But over the next 1-2 years, her accountability was no longer found in an external source (me). She transferred the long term accountability to her internal motivation. She wanted to be healthier for her children, she wanted to be stronger for her daughters, she wanted to demonstrate what it means to be a strong, empowered, motivated woman as her children grew.

This internal accountability is what took her accomplishments to the next level. Not only did she lose 100lbs, she ended up qualifying for the US Triathlon National Championships MULTIPLE times, as a mother of two working a crazy job for Veterans Affairs.

It all comes back to the journey. Our lives are constantly changing, our motivations change, our habits are altered, our sleep is different, what makes us happy changes, and this is part of the journey of progress. By simply recognizing change and then challenging yourself to a means of accountability and small, consistent steps, we are able to slowly build toward goals we may have otherwise deemed unachievable.

Set up short term daily goals, establish weekly goals, monthly goals and quarterly goals and allow those goals to be adaptive. Find the right mixture of accountability, learn how to partake in positive long term internal dialogue while avoiding the negative internal judgement that you have grown accustomed to. Continue to have simple checks along the way and recognize that new processes are challenging and difficult BUT that is what makes them so rewarding to achieve!

How are you handling your New Year’s Resolutions and goals for 2020? Comment below where you want to be in a day, a month, a year...even in a decade from now!

Dane Miller

Dane Miller is the owner and founder of Garage Strength Sports Performance. He works with a select handful of clients on building comprehensive programs for fitness and nutrition. Several times a year he leads a workshop for coaches, trainers, and fitness enthusiasts.

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