It’s that time of year again, here at the gym. When members, new and old, swarm in to reclaim the fitness they lost over the holiday. Or, more excitingly, to strive for goals they haven’t achieved in the past. Inevitably in this first week of the year the same conversation crops up over and over, ”What are your New Years resolutions?” I love this time of year; but it’s a sad fact that 80% of New Years Resolutions are broken by the 2nd week of February.
As a Lifestyle and Habit Change Coach working in one of New York City’s premiere luxury gyms I feel safe telling you: I never set resolutions. I haven’t since I became a trainer, learned about change psychology and how new habits form in the brain, and upped my game. When you study what works it quickly becomes obvious: resolutions don’t.
Here are 4 reasons to set goals instead of making resolutions:
1. Goals are flexible
When you “resolve” to do something it’s concrete. Set in stone. You’re going to change, and that’s final. But what happens when you make a mistake? When you trip up? Or when you realize that maybe you were wrong and missed the mark? If you give up then you’re a “failure”.
Not so with goals. Goals, when regularly visited, give you the opportunity to be flexible. To change your mind and evolve what you want. They’re agile and dynamic. Give yourself permission to change and grow while you figure out what you really want.
2. Goals come with a plan
Resolutions are somehow finite, while also being vague. You WILL go to the gym. You WON’T smoke or drink at all. You WILL eat “well”. You’ll “get some sleep”. But they leave out the how.
Well stated goals include the details. You will go to the gym to strength train 3 times a week. You will quit smoking by using gum; or stop drinking by finding better things to do with your friends. You will eat 5 servings of veggies a day for 2 weeks and then add another good eating habit. You’ll go to bed at the same time every night.
Goals grow with you because they’re backed up with some real plans instead of ultimatums.
3. Goals let you try, try, try again
By March it grows to 90% of people having “failed” their resolutions. They make one mistake and it’s lights out. Resolutions are so cut and dry that they’re brittle and easy to break.
Goals allow you to learn and react. If you approached them with a Growth Mindset, even better. Growth Mindset is the idea that mistakes aren’t moments of failure, but opportunities to learn. Goals allow you to try something new on the path to figuring out how to succeed, even as you’re “failing”.
4. Goals actually work
Yes, this is a synthesis of the three points above – because of these factors, goals are more successful than “resolutions”. As we move into the New Year, New You season, remember to set strong goals, make a plan, and allow yourself a Growth Mindset when you face challenges.