New Year’s Resolutions

Updated: Dec 31, 2018

It’s just that time of year. Yes, my Christmas beard is gone, but by the time it grows back, and my beard grows quickly, you’ll probably have already given up your New Year’s Resolution. It might sound harsh, but we all know it’s true. But why is it true? You often make these Resolutions in good faith, it’s something you genuinely want to achieve, but then why do you throw that desire away so quickly, why does that drive to achieve something disappear? It won’t surprise you to hear that I’m not a fan of New Year’s Resolutions. And looking at their success rate, I wonder why.

As we’re often told, “there’s safety in numbers,” and this is maybe the case with New Year’s Resolutions. Everyone seems to do them. But there are a couple of issues that arise from that. The first is an obvious one; everyone seems to give them up pretty quickly. Here’s that safety in numbers again. Everyone’s doing them, so you join in, but then everyone’s giving them up, so you give up. You don’t feel as bad calling it quits, because everyone else is too. If you’re on your own, you feel like everyone’s watching, everyone’s judging, and maybe there’s a little bit more pressure to follow through. You see that more with things like marathons, especially when you’ve asked for donations to a cause. You often feel that extra pressure to not let people down, you have to do it or it looks really bad. But there’s no such pressure with New Year’s Resolutions, it’s really just a running joke, people making them and then ditching them within a month. As a personal trainer, I’m used to seeing it all the time. You may be too. The gyms packed in January, but empty again come March. So sometimes it’s good to have that pressure, that encouragement to succeed.

The other problem with New Year’s Resolutions, and that numbers game, is the opposite side of things; that it’s peer pressure. Is it really your decision? I speak about control a lot, and how important it is that you feel in control, that it’s you making these choices. And is that really the case with Resolutions? Or is it, because you HAVE to make one. Everyone else is right, so you HAVE to as well. But then you’re not very likely to follow through with something you don’t really enjoy, that’s probably quite difficult, especially when you feel you’ve been forced into it. You’re obviously going to fight back, or chuck it in at the first opportunity, because it was never your conscious choice in the first place. And of course, with your arm twisted, what’s the classic New Year’s Resolution that most people go with? “This year I’m going to lose weight.”

If you really want to achieve something, if you really have a goal in mind, don’t wait until something like this to start it, because the chances are it’ll give you an easier way out, and you’re much more likely to take that way out. In fact, maybe it’s better that you approach it like one of those marathons. You want to lose weight/fat, set a goal and do it for charity, tell everyone about it, tell people to stop you indulging at the office, tell your family to remind you when you head for the snack cupboard, set goals along the way and incentivise yourself with rewards when you hit them. Don’t make it easy on yourself to quit. You’ve chosen this goal, because really it’s something that matters to you, so start ASAP. Anytime is the best time, and the best time is always now. But do it for you, not because you feel you have to.

Have a great New Year, and I’ll see you next week.

Dan Miller

Body Fuel Personal Fitness Trainer