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The fallacy of the new year resolution

Jimmy Pritchard
Better Version of You
While motivation is helpful in initiating your new year's resolution, it comes and goes. There are more permanent techniques, however, which can help supplement those inconsistent feelings of ambition.
Special to the Daily

As we move into the new year, many of us will spend time reflecting on our successes and failures over the past 12 months.

I believe this is extremely beneficial when done in a constructive manner, however, our society as a whole has a tendency toward distraction and instant gratification due to the fast-paced environment we inhabit. I don’t believe there is any one culprit to blame, but social media and a saturated level of communication garners us impatience to the point where, although we would often like to make a change, we don’t because we’ve become too impatient and/or fearful of the discomfort the hard work will require.

I’m not a huge fan of the clichéd “New year, new me” adage, but if it elicits positive change for an individual, then I’m all for it. That being said, waiting for the impending New Year’s reset button to be pushed only delays what could be positively changed at this moment. The time will pass no matter what, so if you decide to better yourself now, then you will be that much further ahead than if you would have waited. Most individuals recognize they’d like to make a change, and many even kick-start their journey to some extent. Unfortunately, the vast majority of those who make a short-term change do not sustain it.

The Art of Change

Everybody at some point has likely made the decision to better themselves, which is fantastic. As a health and fitness professional, I see athletes and clients year after year who desire to make a change but cannot hang on. Some last a week, some last a month, but rarely do I ever see somebody that makes an instant change and never looks back. Interestingly enough, a 1989 study in the Journal of Substance Abuse analyzed 200 subjects in their attempt to adhere to a New Year’s resolution they set forth on their own. After one week 77% of the individuals remained on track, 66% after 2 weeks, 55% after one month, 40% after six months, and only 19% after two years.

While these numbers demonstrate that change can be made and sustained over the long haul, the numbers are low and it is likely that one day you will slip up. What I find most interesting is the all-or-nothing attitude most people display when attempting to change. When they fail to show up at the gym for a day, week, or even a month, they will label their resolution as tarnished and throw in the towel. I believe this an extremely poor method of thinking.

Instead, one should plan to encounter some bumps in the road and understand these are common occurrences.

Four tips

If you have motivation to make a positive change, that’s great. Understand, though, that while motivation is helpful, it comes and goes, thus commitment is what will get you to where you want to go. Being committed means training on days when you’re tired, bored or stressed, as well as when you’re motivated.

Here’s four tips you may find helpful.

Tip 1: Set realistic goals and expectations: If you know that you’re not a morning person, don’t make it your first mission to get up and run at 5 a.m. every day. Try to incorporate the running at a time of day where you know you have more energy and will actually do it.

Tip 2: Write down your goals: It may sound small, but writing down your goals is a highly effective way to get specific with what you want and keep your motivation high. Even better, display these written goals in a place where you can easily see them to serve as a constant reminder.

Tip 3: Don’t go it alone: When you set your goals, try to find a like-minded person who can join the journey with you. The both of you can feed off one another’s energy and support each other.

Tip 4: Plan a break: My last tip is to plan a vacation from whatever it is you’re working on. I wouldn’t recommend doing this early on in the process, as you want to give yourself time to create a positive habit, but working hard with a known break in sight is much easier than putting your head down and charging indefinitely. If you do that you will break eventually.

I hope that whatever your goals for 2020 are, fitness related or not, you can achieve them this go-round and employ some of the previously mentioned techniques. Remember that life is all about choices, and every day you can choose to be better than the day before, no matter where you’re starting or have been.

Jimmy Pritchard has a BSc in exercise science from Colorado Mesa University and is a certified strength and conditioning specialist through the National Strength and Conditioning Association. He is the director of strength & conditioning at Ski & Snowboard Club Vail. Contact him at 970-331-3513 or jpritchard@skiclubvail.org. Check out his website, pritchardperformance.com.


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