Column: Forget New Year’s resolutions

Commentary by Cory Black



A New Year has rung in and we have likely made some resolutions to change, many not for the first time. Weight loss is popular and the year starts with gyms crammed full of new faces. Unfortunately our track record for keeping New Year’s resolutions is terrible.

So why do we fail? Is it because we didn’t want it badly enough or dealt the wrong cards to change? No, we fail because we still love our old habits, unrealistic goal setting and lack of planning.

Successful change requires making new habits. Tony Robbins has it right that habits are based on our desire to gain pleasure and to avoid pain. To change we must associate bad patterns with negative outcomes that cause pain and new habits with the success that will bring pleasure. We can’t change solely by saying through gritted teeth “I must do this” and/or “I won’t eat that anymore.” Eventually we go back to old habits still reinforced by our old associations.

Too often we think we need extreme changes to increase our odds, but we should be realistic about our goals. If running from the couch to the fridge makes you wheezy, commit to starting with running five minutes every day for a month instead of an hour to start reaching a marathon goal. Or commit to cooking two times a week starting out for healthier eating. It just takes time and you’ll be much less likely to quit as you build on small successes.

A failure to plan is a plan to fail, whether to get in better shape or lose weight. A specific goal should be detailed even down to what you are going to do week by week. Track your progress and reward yourself as you progress. If you can’t make a good plan, realize then that you need help.

Let’s forget about New Year’s resolutions that we may have already given up. We can make a real change this year.