It’s that time of year when the same story is told over and over again: how you set New Year’s resolutions with the very best of intentions, but it only lasted about a week or at best a month and then you fell off the proverbial wagon of whatever new health goal you had set.  To be very clear, if this is you, you’re not alone.  Research shows that about 9% of Americans who make a New Year’s resolution actually completes it.  In addition, about 23% of people quit their resolutions by the end of the first week and 43% quit by the end of January.   

There is so much optimism when making a New Year’s resolution, which makes so much sense.  One year is ending and another is beginning, and so often with new beginnings we see opportunity.  It makes sense that as one year ends we want to leave behind all of our failings & hardships in order to start over.  So often our assessments of what needs to change are correct.  We need to eat more nutritious food, exercise more, get more sleep and on and on.  So, if our assessments are correct and the optimism is there why do so many people miserably fail at accomplishing their resolutions?

Top 4 reasons why your goals fail

  • You were too ambitious.  Most often people think of a grand goal like to lose 50 pounds.  Is this possible–absolutely!  But, in order to lose 50 pounds there are several smaller goals that need to be in place before accomplishing the big goal.  Too often people skip over the smaller steps, get overwhelmed, see zero progress, get defeated and then ultimately give up and  fail at accomplishing their big goal.  So, set smaller goals to warm up to the bigger goal.  This will help you to feel some accomplishment and experience some wins, which keeps you motivated to keep going.
  • Your goals didn’t align with YOUR life.  Sometimes when people set a goal, like to exercise daily, they forget to look at how this goal will work within the current framework of their life.  Also, people often look to blanket or global fixes they have read about on the internet instead of doing what is right for their particular body and lifestyle.  For example, maybe you read about how going Vegan helped someone lose weight and improve heart health so you figure that’s what you should do too.  So, you throw out all meat and dairy, but are left with sugar cravings and feeling starved with no energy, which causes you to “cheat” on your diet and ultimately quit.  Unfortunately, when you jump on the latest diet craze you ignore what your specific body and lifestyle need to achieve your goals.  Sometimes going vegan will work for some people to achieve their health goals, but it may not work for everyone.  It’s important to set goals that align with your lifestyle, your bodily needs, your physiology and your values.
  • You had zero support or accountability.  It’s incredibly difficult to make dietary changes without any support.  If you’re living with a partner who scoffs at the changes you’re trying to make, actively tempts you with the very things you’re trying to avoid, or even just doesn’t care about what you’re doing it will be very difficult to achieve your health goals.  The most successful people in making changes to their health are those that have a buddy who is doing the same thing with them, they have an electronic device that gauges progress for them or they have someone who holds them accountable like a Nutritional Therapy Practitioner (NTP).  Research shows that you are twice as likely to achieve your goals if you have an accountability partner.
  • You didn’t plan for obstacles.  There will be obstacles to every single goal you set.  If you’re prepared for them or have identified some of these barriers ahead of time you’re more likely to be successful.  If your goal is to eat less sugar then you’ll need to think through the obstacles like:  What will I do when my family is eating treats at the movies?  What will I do or say at the staff party that has cake?  If I break my goal and eat sugar how will I get back at it without shame?   If you think ahead and have a plan for obstacles you’ll be less likely to experience failure.

Try to Think Small

Overall, to create lasting changes to your health try to think small.  Small changes made over time will ultimately result in really big changes.  It’s also more likely that the small changes will become your little daily habits.  And, it’s not the crash diets or big, sexy goals that most impact our health the most.  It’s actually the small daily habits we create that will change our health for the better across our entire lifetime that matter most. 


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