I go to a park near my house every morning to workout on the pull-up bar and the other stuff. As the year 2020 started, I suddenly started seeing a lot of new people showing up to exercise, run and sometimes just sit in the park early in the morning. People working out and taking care of their health makes me happy for some reason. So, all these people being active as a new year’s resolution felt really great.
But within 4–5 days, most of those who had started working out as a resolution, started being irregular. Now after more than 20 days into the new year, almost every one of them has disappeared from the morning routine.
This must have happened with you a lot of times too. You make fabulous sounding resolutions every new year and then you almost forget it within the first month. It seems almost impossible to keep your resolutions for everyone to the extent that we have started circulating Memes and Tweets about “Not keeping Your New Year Resolutions!!”
So here are a few reasons why I think People don’t see their resolutions through.
- People are not serious: Making resolutions has become a trend for a long time now. People think it’s cool to have some resolutions for the new years, because the people that they think are cool have new year resolutions. This habit of just following trends takes away the seriousness of the resolution they made. Nowadays most of the new year’s resolutions are just a laughing matter (It’s a high chance that this article will become a laughing matter too!!).
- People don’t know Why they are doing it: Many times the resolutions are set randomly. People don’t ideate on why they want to do something for this year. Reasons to decide to do X-thing for the next 365 days should be well thought, evaluated and explored. This one speaks to the first point that, because many are setting up resolutions just for the sake of it, they themselves aren’t quite sure why the resolution is really being made,
- They have unrealistic ideas: In the enthusiasm of the new year people set goals like “I’ll read one book every week this year” OR “I’ll turn vegan this year”, only to realise that they don’t have it in them to achieve such a high goal. The “1 book every week” guy doesn’t even complete one book a month or sometimes in the whole year. Person trying to turn vegan going from having multiple meals of meat every week faces problems such as weakness, mental uneasiness from suppressing the want for meat.
The sudden changes that people expect to make in their lifestyle are unachievable almost every time. Failure to make these sudden changes immediately turns people away from their resolutions.
- People lack Patience: Because of the unrealistic goals in the first place they are automatically set up for disappointments. Every person is a different case and any habit, good or bad, will take different time span to show effects on different people. Usually everything takes longer than expected at all times.
If people are learning a new instrument, say Violin, it takes a lot of time in the beginning to even make it sound in tune, playing a song is a story for another month. Also, different people are differently skilled, so it might take some people more time than others to learn the song, As people have unrealistic expectations or constantly comparing themselves to others, they are disappointed in the early days which leads them to give up on learning.
- They Don’t plan: Resolutions are usually not backed by the plan. People never think of the what, the when and the how while making a resolution. The plan is always to improvise, and usually the resolutions are so obnoxious that the improvisation doesn’t work. This ends up messing the whole idea of doing something regularly.
- There are no consequences: There are no real consequences of not following through with your resolutions. As the action itself is not well planned, the possible pitfalls are not considered and hence the consequences of not keeping up with the resolution are not in place. This makes it very easy for people to let the resolutions be forgotten within the first few weeks of the new year.
So what are the few things that You could do to push yourself to keep your resolutions? I’ve picked up a few ideas from the articles I’ve read and people that I’ve listened to.
- Don’t make resolutions, set up a goal: New year resolutions have an unnecessary buzz around them, which gives them a lot of coolness but as it turns out it makes us not take them seriously at the same time.
Setting up goals is a better alternative to the resolutions, The main difference between the two is quite simple. We just need to change “I’ll do X every day” to “I’ll complete N-amount of X by 31 January”
- Be Specific: Setting up the goals lets you put some measurable metrics on your progress. It also eliminates the chance for you to cheat on your goal. For example, instead of saying, “I’ll workout every day,’’ decide “I’ll do 25 pushups and 25 squats for a month.” Now that you have the set goal in form of numbers, You’ll be motivated to crush those numbers.
Personally, I find this technique really useful. I set myself a target of doing 30 pull-ups every morning and walk for 8+ km every evening, and I’ve never missed a day as long as I don’t have a business meeting.
- Be realistic: Enthusiasm of a new year’s resolution can sometimes make us blind to our limitations.
If you’ve never done any exercise in your life, You won’t be able to do 50 pushups on your first day of working out.
If you are extremely addicted to being connected to your devices for a long time like me, it’s almost impossible to quit all your social media for a month all of a sudden.
Self-awareness plays a very important role here. You should push your limits, but it should happen one step at a time.
There’s a great quote by Bill Gates about change, it goes:
We always overestimate the change that will occur in the next two years and underestimate the change that will occur in the next ten.
- Write down a plan: A part of setting yourself to succeed in achieving your goals is to never let yourself forget about the goals that you really want to achieve. One way to accomplish that is writing it down. Write down What You want to achieve? Why do You want that? And How will you achieve it?
It could be on a piece of paper, a whiteboard in your office or study,your diary, your notes on the phone, wallpaper, anywhere that you will look at multiple times a day. I use Trello to keep tabs on my personal as well as Business tasks. I have created multiple lists on my Trello board for articles, Business ideas, books to read, movies to watch, etc.
- Tell Everyone about it: Here’s another way of bringing accountability to your goals. Tell your Friends, Family, Partner or Your social media friends about the goals that you’ve set for yourself. Telling your plans to other people literally make them real, because a few percentage of them will remember that and will ask you about the progress. This puts you under some societal pressure to Do.
Having such a self-imposed pressure to achieve goals is a real bliss. It will push you to your goals effectively, but remember to be realistic about your goals as I wrote above, because setting up unachievable goals and putting societal pressure on top of it can be a problem to your mental health.
I have myself put my plan of the major things that I want to do in 2020 into words in my previous blog so that someone of the few people that read it will hold me accountable and ask me about how my plan is going. You can find that article Here, as well as at the bottom of this article.
- Set up rewards: Throughout this article it might seem like I’m being extra harsh about achieving goals, so know this, nothing in extremis can help anyone in any way. While you are pushing yourself to achieve some Financial goal, Career goal or a Fitness goal, do not forget to set some rewards when you reach the milestones too.
After you have worked out and eaten healthy for five days, give yourself a cheat day. Don’t feel guilty about it. As long as you maintain the discipline for the other 5 days, being a little lenient for a day is perfectly okay. Setting up the rewards for milestone achievements is not only recommended, but actually imperative to the success.
Now that I’ve talked about everything that I can think about the new year resolutions I want to give you a real example. This is a story of Umesh Jadhav (Name not changed for the story, follow him on Instagram!! ), one of my closest friends from college. I’ve known him for about 10 years now. Umesh has been one of the biggest people of my age that I have personally known. It’s not that he eats overly unhealthy food, he is built bigger than average people and a lot stronger too.
Last year Umesh decided to start working out in a gym for the first time to improve his health. He did not wait for the new year to arrive, he started somewhere in October of 2019 and challenged himself to workout for 21 days straight in a gym. He weighed 119 kgs when he started. He kept his first goal of 21 days and lost about 4 kgs in those days. He had been posting his progress every day on Instagram for these 21 days and Everyone in our friends circle was making fun of him (me included!), speculating that he won’t be able to keep this up for many days. After he completed his 21 days and saw the results, he was motivated enough to start a 100 Days of workout challenge for himself.
Lets just jump directly to today, after about 75 days, he has lost another 10 kgs of weight and he’s not stopping anytime soon. While writing this article, I realised how much Umesh’s discipline in last few months relates to every point in here. He set up a great goal, made an actionable plan, held himself accountable and just kept at it every day.
Be like Umesh!