Here we are three weeks into the New Year and not one mention by me of resolutions; not one—until now. Yes, this is the time of year most people make promises to themselves to change something about themselves; yet rarely do these promises ever stick. Such a shame. I think the lack of completion for the large majority of New Year's resolutions happens for several reasons, some of which I’ll touch upon here. But I also think that the approach to our New Year’s goals matters too. This is the gist of this month’s article. We will use losing weight as an example to focus on why and how most people fail at keeping their resolutions, how to improve your chances of sticking to the ones you've made this year, and we'll give you some tips on successfully completing your New Year's resolutions all the way through to December.
Failure is in the Details
That’s right, the failure to complete New Year’s resolutions is in the details—those you make, and those you fail to formulate. Most people go into the New Year wanting to achieve something—some feel they have to; others want to truly create change. No better time than the New Year to create transformation. The problem is that most people go into their resolutions haphazardly. They make four major mistakes when setting New Year’s resolutions—they have no true inspiration, they fail to plan, they allow themselves to be distracted, and they fail to stick to their commitments.
A resolution is a resolve or determination—it is making an earnest decision, and sticking to it. That is usually the first error people make when setting New Year’s resolutions—they set their aspirations lightly. When setting goals it helps to really want to achieve them. Another way of saying this is that the desire for change must be inspirational, not simply motivational. What this means is that it has to come from deep inside you, from the core or your being, from the soul if you will. It must be something you are willing to suffer through, not just reap the rewards from, because all change requires pain. Sorry to have to break it to you, but it's the glorious truth.
So motivation is not enough. Motivation is mental—a mind trip; it’s having to psyche yourself up to get your business completed. Motivation won’t keep you on the New Year’s resolution track for the entire year; it probably won’t even keep you on track for a full quarter. Nearly 80% of all people making New Year’s resolutions quit by the end of January. By the end of January!!! Hah, that’s no surprise to me. Not because I don’t think people can do it, but because I know that if you don’t approach change from the core of your being, it isn’t going to happen.
Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions Starts in Your Heart
People keep their New Year’s resolutions when their drive comes from deep within. I don’t mean to get all airy fairy here, but anytime people want change it must come from their hearts, from their souls. Attempting something because you think it’s what you should do, or because society says it’s not acceptable, is just going to frustrate you. Make things simple for yourself, remind yourself: Society is constantly changing what it finds acceptable. Whether it’s your weight or the fact that you smoke cigarettes, trust me, somebody will accept you and probably join you. I do not belong to the “but your health will be destroyed” by junk food, cigarettes, alcohol, or whatever. I don’t. We are all damaging ourselves somehow. We are also all rebuilding ourselves all the time. Does cigarette smoke damage the lungs? Yup. And obesity is hard on the heart, blood vessel, liver, lungs and all other organs too. But you know what…over-exercising is damaging to the body too, so is sleeping too much. Some people I know are so obsessed with their health that they stress their bodies all the time with herbs and dietary fasts and mega-workouts. Listen, none of these things in and of themselves is bad—it’s the excessive indulgences in them that beats the body down. Anything out of moderation will overstress the body.
So if you really want to create change, strive for moderation. Moderation is a great goal to start with because it doesn’t become an unrealistic endeavor. People fail at their New Year’s resolutions because they bite off more than they can chew. If you are shooting to drop 100 pounds in a year…um, I doubt it's going to happen. But if you plan on going on The Biggest Loser, then, okay you might. Your odds, however, of regaining the weight back shortly after reaching your goals are very high if you lose lots of it quickly. How about 25 pounds? That sounds more like a realistic and doable goal if you ask me.
If you would really love to achieve something, if it’s in your heart, then you’ll be inspired. Inspired people create transformation. When inspired, you won’t need anybody or anything to motivate you. You’ll do it through thick and thin because you are driven from within. It’s what you would love to do, and that is powerful force. If you decide to set a New Year’s resolution, then make sure it’s something you would love more than anything else. That way, you’ll be more likely to achieve it.
Fail to Plan
The next reason people fall short on their New Year’s resolutions is that they fail to plan their strategy completely. When entering any endeavor, a game plan is a necessity. You must write down the details of your plan, make them realistic (moderate), and then follow them; yet, you must also allow for flexibility. Miss any one of these components and you will be doomed for failure.
You’ll need to plan out your time, what you'll need (supplies, equipment, Nicorette, etc.), where you'll need to do it (gym, yoga studio, etc.), how many days you'll be working on your goals, and so on. Suffice it to say that if you go in without a game plan, you’ll become just another January casualty.
Dang Those Distractions!
Here goes the dirty word of the day—distractors! Distractors are anything that takes the mind away from the primary goal. Distractors can be friends, work, travel, disrupted schedules, drugs, boken bones, whatever—all kinds of things can pull you away from your routine. Notice that a distractor pulls the mind away. This is what happens when your heart is not in it; so again, motivation is not enough to keep you true to your New Year’s resolutions. When you are truly inspired to create something in new your life, nothing can pull you from your mission. Inspiration thwarts all distractors.
Stick to the Plan, Man (or Woman)
The final thing that pulls people away from keeping their New Year’s resolutions is not sticking to their plans. Duh! I know this sounds obvious so let’s talk about what happens. Distractors happen...that’s what. And it’s okay. Distractors are a part of life. Fanaticism will get you only a little farther than January 31st, but probably not much farther than March. So the majority of us that are not fanatics will have to deal with distractors. No problem—just get back on the horse, baby.
When those people running on pure mental motivation—those psyched by January 1st—encounter a distractor, it’s usually pretty hard for them to pick it back up at a later time. If instead you are operating from the heart, from inspiration, then you will more likely pick it up after a minor setback. I cannot emphasize how crucial this is: If you want to successfully create and change what your New Year’s resolution is dedicated toward, then you must be able to step away for a week, two weeks, or even a month...AND PICK IT BACK UP AGAIN! Period. And that can only come from an inspired goal.
Let’s take a look at one of the most common New Year resolutions set every year—losing weight. If you choose to take on this endeavor, you’ll need to remember and apply the following principles:
- Get inspired
- Plan your strategy
- Beware the common destractors, and if you can’t
- Get back on the plan, ASAP
So how about losing weight? I’m sure it’s not hard to imagine that this is one of the most commonly adopted New Year’s resolutions each year. With obesity at an all time high and rising, I would think that this resolution dwarfs all others by comparison. However, people are still failing to lose weight despite commitments at the begiining of the year.
Inspiration to Lose Weight
The first problem I see is that in many instances people want to lose weight for all the wrong reasons. I know it sounds crazy that I can suggest that even one person might not really want to lose weight deep down inside, but many would rather just be who they are. Obesity, though, is being pummeled at every turn by modern society, especially in the media. Obesity is the new smoking. Heaven help you if you are overweight, because, today, society is scapegoating these people for all of society's health woes. I think under that kind of pressure, most people would succumb and try to lose weight. When they fail for not really wanting it, they beat themselves up miserably, so that we have overweight and depressed people, too.
Today, we blame overweight and obese people for everything, from America’s poor health rankings in the world to its exorbitant costs of medical care. "It’s the fault of the obese," people say—not! Listen, carrying too much weight is hard on the body, without a doubt; but many non-obese people harm their health, too—neglecting their bodies, failing to exercise, working long hours, overusing pharmaceutical drugs. Give me a break! The nation’s health care woes are not the fault of overweight people? Please.
There…now I can get off my soapbox. I simply want to emphasize that if you want to lose weight, do it because there is nothing you would love more—not that pint of Ben and Jerry’s, not that two-liter bottle of Diet Coke, not that extra large pizza...nothing. When you can say, with no exception, that you want to lose weight more than sitting at home on a Saturday morning watching college football, then you are probably ready to tackle a weight loss program.
Most people, though, want to lose weight because they feel they are supposed to. They are told by their doctors, their friends, and television that thin is in; every ad and billboard around them screams, “Lose weight!” So they start their New Year’s resolution half-heartedly, and I tell you…it just will not work that way. Think about it for awhile, and if you decide that losing weight is what you truly want more than anything else, then go for it. I support you.
Realistic Goals for Losing Weight
The next problem I see is that even when people are inspired to lose weight, many end up setting unrealistic goals. As I’ve said earlier, if you have the fantasy that you will lose 100 pounds or more in a year…you will fail. I’ve disclosed in a previous article that one pound lost per week is healthy; anything more than that is unsustainable. When people lose lots of weight quickly, they are usually losing water weight. More than anything they are dehydrating themselves—it’s dangerous and downright dumb.
Further, when people lose weight rapidly, it is often gained back quickly—all of it. So losing weight moderately is the most prudent practice.
This begins with goal setting. Set your goals according to the number of pounds you want to lose in an alloted time. I suggest one pound or less per week. A good first-year goal would be 25 pounds. This is realistic, and if you lose more—bravo, you’ll feel even more empowered.
You’ll also have to plan your new eating regimen, your workout routine, and who is going to help you and support on your plan. If you have tried unsuccessfully many times to lose weight, or if you are extremely obese, or if you just think you need help achieving your goals, you can call my office; I can help you with this endeavor. I I have an effective weight loss program that has helped many people. Don’t hesitate; call my office today if you need my help.
Common Distractors to Losing Weight
Finally, many distractors exist when it comes to sticking to a weight loss program. The most common is the mind itself. The reality is that whenever one embarks on a challenge of the magnitude of losing weight, the mind will often step in and say, “C’mon, one slip up isn’t going to hurt; you can have that cookie (doughnut, Doritos, cheesecake, etc.).” And it’s true, ONE slip up won't hurt; however, the chance that one slip up remains one slip up is slim.
The mind will also act as a negator: It will tell you that you can’t do something; it’s impossible, and so forth. That type of distraction can be very difficult to overcome. Some people can ignore the mind with no problem; however, for the most of us, it takes something more than sheer will power to overcome this mental chatter. There are mental techniques to help you overcome this aspect of the mind. It is an integral part of my weight loss program, and in my opinion, the only surefire way to stay on track when trying to lose weight.
The final distractor I’m going to talk about is the "why" you are over-eating to begin with. It can be uncovered, and it doesn’t need to take 36 months on a therapists couch, either. All it takes is a real desire to lose weight—an inspired heart and mind. People that are inspired have no difficulty getting to the crux of their issue(s). These people are not driven by outside forces like their families, friends, or society at large. Instead, they are driven by a real heart-felt desire to change. For these people, finding the source of their eating habit (and it is a habit) doesn’t take that long at all.
If you happen to succumb to any of the above or other distractors (awesome Superbowl party, kick-ass spread, Vegas breakfast buffet, big momma's flap jacks), just remember, you can always get back on the program at any time. Quick question: Who is more likely to lose weight and keep it off—the person that falls off the wagon, goes on a food binge, and jumps back on the program one week later, or the person that just quits? I know, I know...but I had to ask. The point is simple. Falling down and getting back up is a part of everyone’s life, whether in business, relationships, or losing weight. Don’t be foolish—if you really want to lose weight, just accept that you will have set backs. And get back up and restart the program. Simple as that.
So there you have it—a great New Year’s resolution! Losing weight isn’t simple; in fact, no resolution is. That’s why they are called resolutions—nobody needs to be resolved or determined when something is easy. But you can achieve by December 31st what you set out to do in January. It just takes a little planning, and making sure you come from the heart. If you wouldn't really LOVE to lose weight, don't lay a trip on yourself. Honestly, I support you, and I sincerely mean this. But if you would love to lose weight this year, a few mental tools will make the process that much easier.
Whether losing weight is your goal in 2010 or beyond, and no matter what the time of year, call my office for a free consultation on my weight loss program. It’s safe and effective—no gimmicks, no trick—just good health care done in a reasonable manner. I can help you set your mind to achieving your goals—of that, I am resolute.
Happy New Year!
-January 19, 2010
The Six Keys to Optimal Health by Dr. Nicolas Campos
For More Advice on Health and Optimal Living Read
The Six Keys to Optimal Health by Dr. Nicolas Campos