How To Make Your New Years Resolutions Work…Even If 2014’s Failed Miserably!
3 Steps To Get Motivated To Do ANYTHING!
We are approaching that time of year again. You know…
The part where we all set massive goals, big action plans, and make decisions about how we are going to make next year better than the last.
It’s all motivating stuff!
The thing is… If it really works, then why do we have to do it year after year?
Surely we must be doing something wrong?
New Years Resolutions DON’T Work
According to researcher Richard Wiseman, 88% of all New Years resolutions fail.
That is a lot people promising some form of change in their lives failing to create the desired outcome.
Based on this statistic alone, I think it is safe to say that New Years resolutions do not work.
So let’s take a minute to have a look at why this might be the case, and then we can dive in to 3 strategies you can use to get motivated to do ANYTHING!
Why Don’t New Years Resolutions Work?
As someone who has trained a lot of people to reach their health and fitness goals, I have come across a fair share of people making resolutions.
– Brides wanting to get in shape ready for their Wedding Day,
– Mums wanting to get fit enough to play with their kids,
– People wanting to finally create that slim, toned look they have always dreamed of
…I’ve seen and heard it all.
And along the way I have noticed distinct patterns in the people that succeed, and in those that fail.
Let’s look at some reasons for the failures first…
1 Too many resolutions/targets at once
Imagine the following…
As part of your New Years resolution you decide you want to get fit for a charity run in a few months time.
The run is 5km long, and despite having not run in a long time this is a completely achievable goal, with plenty of time to prepare.
There is no obvious reason for failure.
That is until you make the following decisions based on this goal…
- I should start going running 3 evenings a week after work
- I should give up smoking as of 1st January
- I should make a conscious decision to eat better and limit my alcohol intake to weekends only
- I should start buying, and reading, a running magazine on a weekly basis to keep up to date with the latest training techniques, new trainer releases, and advice on race day preparation
I hope you can see where I am going with this.
In this one goal (a charity 5km run) there are at least 4 other goals to execute on a consistent basis in order to attain the goal…based on what you believe.
Within these 4 new goals there are then several habits you will have to change to attain those.
For example, ‘making a conscious effort to eat better and limit my alcohol intake to weekends only‘ probably requires the un-doing of several old habits, and the acquiring of several new ones.
– If you drink a glass of wine each evening and want to limit this to weekends only, that requires a new habit.
– If you want to eat better, that requires completely changing your shopping list and the way you view food.
– If this includes eating a healthy breakfast, you now need to get up 10 minutes earlier (a new habits in itself) and then prepare the healthy breakfast (yet another new habit).
Creating a new habit takes, on average, 21 days of consistent action to become permanent. If you are aiming to create several new habits at once this means constantly doing several new behaviours for a period of at least 21 days.
You can see here how we might be setting ourselves up for failure when many of us are trying to develop at least 10 new habits as part of a New Years resolution.
However, I do want to help you set yourself up with a better chance of success by changing the way you think about, and set, New Years resolution…and any goal for that matter!
2 We think of what we SHOULD do, rather than what we COULD do
In the example above I talk about 4 things you have decided you SHOULD do as as part of your bigger goal of running for charity.
One of these things was ‘I should start running 3 times a week after work’
But what if we replaced SHOULD with COULD?
Now this reads completely differently…
“I could start running 3 times a week after work”
In some circles, this may seem like a complete cop-out, but some people genuinely perform better when they look at things in terms of what they COULD do vs. what they SHOULD do.
When we say we ‘could’ do something, we are accepting at a subconscious level that this is in fact something that is achievable.
Saying we ‘should’ do something doesn’t necessarily have the same effect.
It also reduces the pressure of having to complete the task, which for some people can work really well.
If you are a bit of a perfectionist from time-to-time, like myself.
Setting the goal of “I should run 3 times a week after work” might seem completely achievable.
You decide this will take place on a Monday, Wednesday & Friday as these are the best nights for you and allow for recovery in between.
However, on week 3 you cannot do Monday’s run due to a meeting that pops up, and you know that Tuesday is the night you stay late.
So this week you will only have the chance of doing Wednesday and Friday.
To someone of a similar mindset to me, who likes things to go to plan, this essentially deems the week useless in terms of completing this task.
After all, if I can’t do my run 3 times, what’s the point in running at all?
I know that this doesn’t make logical sense, but it is something a lot of people do.
They make ‘plans’ and then when things don’t go to plan they do nothing at all because they see it as a pointless task now that it cannot follow the plan they have set out.
If, in this scenario, I had told myself I COULD run 3 times a week after work, that gives me something to work towards.
If I can only fit 2 runs in that’s fine, but I know that if my week goes to plan I could fit 3 in.
I hope that makes sense 😀
3 There’s no real meaning to our goals
When setting a New Years resolution, have you ever stopped to ask yourself why you want to achieve it?
Or why that resolution in particular?
If you have, well done…You’re a step ahead of most people.
If you haven’t, why haven’t you?
Why haven’t you asked why?
Let me describe two scenarios to you…
In the first, you decide you want to go to the shops.
There is something in particular you want so you set off on your journey, go to the shops, and get the item.
In the second scenario, you decide to go to the shops because you’re bored.
There is noting in particular you want, but you set off regardless, go to the shops, and window shop aimlessly for a couple of hours.
I imagine both of the scenarios above are familiar to you.
So how do you feel in each scenario?
In the first scenario I imagine you feel pretty good. You have a goal to attain and a reason why.
You want to go to the shops to get a particular item.
This does a few things…
- Focus – having the reason for going focuses you on only going in the shops that sell the item you need. You don’t wander round for hours looking aimlessly at things. You get the job done well and fairly quickly.
- Planning – your reason for going to the shops allows you to better plan how you will attain the goal. You already know why you are going, so you make sure you park close to the shops that you need and that you go somewhere that actually has those types of shops in the first place!
- Satisfaction – In both scenarios you achieve your goal of going to the shops. However, the second scenario leaves you a lot less satisfied than the first. Having a reason for attaining a goal makes it a lot more satisfactory when achieved.
- Determination – If you hit traffic or other obstacles on the way to the shops in scenario 1 you would continue to the shops regardless because you are going for a reason. Add to this the fact that the item is a present for someone and you become even more determined to get there and buy the item as it now has even more meaning. In scenario 2 you would be much more likely to turn the car around and go back home
I know this may seem like an over-simplistic way of describing the reason for having meaning behind your goals, and there might be a hole or two in there.
But I hope it provides you with a little more understanding about the lesson here…
When setting ANY goal, we need to give it some meaning and ask WHY we want to achieve it.
The more meaning your goal has the more likely you are to achieve it.
Here’s an example of how you might give a goal more meaning…
Then I will feel like a better role model for my kids and will be able to run around with them in the park without getting out of breath.
Hopefully you can see how the 3rd goal in the list would be a much more powerful one than the 1st.
3 Ways To Get Motivated To Do ANYTHING
Now that we have delved in to why New Years resolutions, and the way most of us set goals, doesn’t work. Let’s dig in to how to motivate yourself to do anything!
I am going to break this down in to 3 distinct components that I believe need to be present to achieve any goal and I will go on to explain why.
These are the 3 main components I believe are most important based on my experience of having helped hundreds of people achieve their health and fitness goals, as well as overcome some huge barriers in their life.
There are other things involved as well, but for now, let’s stick to these 3…
The first component is a continuation of what we spoke about in the last part of the “Why New Years Resolutions Don’t Work” section above.
In that section I have already described why giving meaning to a goal works, and hopefully the examples given helped you understand that.
So here, I am going to delve in to how you give a goal REAL meaning and how to uncover the meaning behind ANY goal you may have, but don’t know why.
The 5 Whys
As you may have noticed already, a big part of finding the meaning behind your goal is to ask the question WHY?
And my favourite way to do this is to use ‘The 5 Whys’
Simply put, this works by asking what goal you want to achieve, asking yourself why, and then going 5 levels deep.
Let me show you an example….
Goal Lose 2 stone in the New Year
Why? So that I look and feel better
Why? Because at the minute I don’t feel good about myself
Why? When I look in the mirror I don’t like what I see and it frustrates me
Why? Because I know I could look a lot better than I do now and be a lot healthier and that would make me feel really good about myself
Why? Because I would feel a sense of achievement, have more confidence and not worry about the way I look any more. I’d also be able to walk in to a shop and feel comfortable trying on clothes rather than avoiding it all together.
In this example this woman wants to lose 2 stone
..But not because she want’s to look and feel better (the first why)
It’s because she is looking for the following….
– A sense of achievement
– More confidence
– Less worry about how she looks
– To feel more comfortable
Now when I work with people and help them set goals, I go a lot deeper than this by asking a series of different questions and using their answers to ask more penetrating questions.
However, using the 5 whys is a great place to start and something anyone can use on themselves.
Once you get to the 5th level you start to get closer to the REAL reasons behind wanting to achieve a certain goal and these are the things you need to remind yourself of when things get tough.
If the woman above is doing well for a week or 2 and then suddenly starts to struggle she might need to re-motivate herself.
One of the best ways to do this is to remind yourself of why you started in the first place.
If she has done the ‘5 Whys’ she can ask herself…“Why did I start this journey in the first place?”
A: Because I wanted to lose 2 stones in weight
“So why should I keep going?”
A: Because if I lose the 2 stones I will feel a sense of achievement, have more confidence, worry less about how I look, and feel more comfortable within myself”
Is she hasn’t done the ‘5 Whys’ then she can’t really re-motivate herself in the same way because her honest answer to the second question above would be…. “I don’t know”
Everything we do, we do for a reason.
So my question to you is….What is your reason for going after that goal?
2 Use Pain
Unbeknown to many, pain is a great thing to use to get us started with making changes in our lives.
We already use it to kick us in to action to do things, we just don’t realise it.
For example, ever let the washing-up or housework build up to the point where you can’t bare it anymore?
What generally happens?
You get up, you assess the problem and you sort it out!
It becomes too painful to keep doing nothing, so you sort it out.
When I talk about using pain I don’t mean actual physical pain. I mean understanding what cost is associated with not making a change and how that could become ‘painful’.
In the example above, if you don’t sort out the washing-up it will become out of control until the point where you have nothing to eat off. For most, that’s enough to get them motivated to take some action.
In relation to helping you stay motivated, here’s 2 great ways to use pain…
1. Use It To Get Started
Using pain is a great way to get started but should not be used as a long term motivator.
Well it doesn’t really pay to become someone who is constantly motivated by pain, doing so would mean that you have to constantly look for what is wrong in your life in order for you to keep pushing forwards.
You have probably heard of or met some people like this. No matter what they achieve, they are never satisfied. This usually means they remain unhappy despite achieving amazing levels of success.
Instead, use pain to get you started by asking questions (see next point) and then switch the emphasis to ‘Pleasure’ further down the line. That is something I will cover another day.
2. Use It To Ask Questions
As I just mentioned, pain can be used to ask and answer questions that will help you get started on your journey.
Here are a few questions I have got people to answer in the past to help them realise why they want to change, and in some cases, why they MUST change.
– What will you miss out on by staying the way you are right now?
– What does it cost you to be the way you are now (e.g. how does it affect your relationships, how does it affect work life, how does it impact family/friends/children)
– What will your situation look like in a year, then 5 years, then 10 years if you decide not to change anything at all?
– What do you gain from staying the way you are right now?
However, these questions can easily be applied to other areas of your life with some minor tweaks.
One of the most powerful things you can do to keep motivated to do anything is to share your goals/dreams/desires/targets with others.
Straight away this will give you one thing you have never had in the past if you have never shared a goal before…
Think about it…
Most of us are more likely to let ourselves down than we would let others down.
This is true in most people I have worked with, especially mums.
I’ll give you an example…
You have set aside time in your evening to go the the gym or do some form of exercise
However, just as you leave work a colleague asks you if you can take a look at something for them because they are in a rush to get to an appointment they have in the evening.
Being the helpful person you are, and not wanting to let the colleague down, you offer to stay behind and sort out the problem for them so they can get to their other appointment.
In doing so, you have now left yourself no time to go to your own appointment i.e. exercise.
Well let’s take a look at what has actually happened here in real terms.
In this situation you have essentially said to yourself…
“My colleague’s appointment is much more important than mine. Therefore, I am going to miss my appointment so that they can make their’s instead.“
Fairly straightforward right?
But hang on a minute…getting your exercise in was part of the new routine you had set yourself to improve your overall health and fitness because you were worried that you had started to let this area of your life slide.
So it’s safe to say this was an important appointment.
“Yeah but Matt. It was just one missed session” – I hear you cry
It wasn’t ‘just one missed session‘ – it was the 15th time this week you let someone else’s schedule or agenda affect yours negatively because you put their needs before you own.
– Like when you HAD to say yes to that slice of cake from Alison because she had baked it specially for everyone in the office and you didn’t want to offend her.
– Like when you went in to work earlier than planned because someone else had messed something up and you felt you had to sort it for them, meaning you missed your breakfast and forgot to take the rest of your food with you for the day.
– Like when you went for drinks after work last Friday because you wanted to be a ‘team player’ and knew that it wouldn’t get noticed if you didn’t do that session at the gym you had planned to do.
You get the idea.
Nor am I saying that you cannot be a ‘team player’ or help others if you want to achieve your goals.
However……. (click the next tab)
It isn’t easy, and yes, there is a slight element of selfishness to the whole thing. But who says that’s a bad thing?
If by saying NO to something and saying YES to something else you eventually end up being healthier, happier and fitter then surely that is less selfish than other alternative?
Imagine if instead of being the only person who knew about your goals and the journey you were meant to be on, you shared it with a close friend, relative, or network of people similar to you?
Do you think you would be as likely to cancel on yourself ahead of other as much as you do now?
Not a chance!
What if by cancelling on an exercise session you were also cancelling on a friend that was meant to be going with you?
Do you think you would be as likely to stay at work late instead of making that session?
Not a chance!
You can see where I am going with this.
Working alongside someone can give you an extra element of accountability to help you make better decisions.
They won’t necessarily tell you what to do or make decisions for you.
If you have struggled to achieve goals in the past on your own, make sure you seek the help of another person.
Your chances of success will increase massively!
Either use a friend, ask a family member, or find a community of people like you who are a positive influence.
I find this works particularly well in my line of work and is the reason why I enjoy training and working with people as part of small groups, or pairing them up.
It allows people to bounce of one-another, share ideas, motivate each other, and most importantly….Adds another element of accountability.
One Final Note…
I want to finish with a final ‘thought’ that I believe affects most people’s motivation, or lack of it, in regards to achieving specific goals/targets.
I often find that people are super-motivated when they start off a new journey, and that motivation usually enables them to make some changes that gives them some initial success.
This initial success keeps their motivation going for a short while meaning that the person can often keep getting results for a few weeks, maybe even a few months.
However, when the inevitable happens and life gets in the way, their success can slow down or even reverse.
And guess what happens?
Their motivation plummets, and the vicious cycle of lack of results and lack of motivation begins to rear its ugly head.
To gain REAL success that lasts a LIFETIME, you need to understand that success IS NOT LINEAR…
Whether it be weight loss, making money, running a marathon, building a business, raising a family, learning to drive, taking music lessons…or anything you want to achieve.
It is VERY unlikely that your success in that areas will constantly move in a positive direction.
There is inevitably going to be some lapses along the way, unexpected obstacles, and life struggles that either slow you down or send you in the wrong direction.
The key is to…
– Acknowledge this.
– Accept it.
– And keep going anyway!
After a ‘peak’ in your success their may well be a slight ‘trough’.
Your job is simply to make sure that the next ‘peak’ is higher than the last, and the next ‘trough’ is less impactful that the previous.
Over To You…
I want to finish by wishing you a Happy New Year and hope you achieve all the success you deserve!
The journey is likely to be a bumpy one, but that’s what makes it fun!
There is likely to be a few struggles along the way, but that’s what helps us learn!
There will be times when you want to give up, but that’s when you find out how resilient you are!
…And there will be times when you want to give up like you have in the past, but this time will be different 😀
If you would like a FREE to help you implement the information from this post by taking you through a step-by-step goal setting process for successful weight loss, as well as giving you some fantastic FREE exercise and nutrition info, then download the FREE guide by clicking the button below…