Ahh the Holidays. We ate, drank and spent too much. We let too much work slide. We let family relationships fray. It’s natural to want to get back on track and make amends. But our minds and bodies aren’t ready for significant behavioral modification yet. Instead, use this time to test-drive your resolutions so you can work out the kinks, make realistic adjustments, and commit to them for real come February or March.
Here’s why. Research suggests only one in ten Americans (9%) complete the resolutions they have set. In fact, one in four people (23%) will quit their resolutions by the end of the first week, and nearly half (43%) quit by the end of January. Take health resolutions, one of the most popular and misguided categories. Research conducted by fitness app Strava shows that January 19th – less than three weeks out – is the most popular day for abandoning resolutions. Strava calls it “Quitter’s Day.” In a minute I’ll explain why that’s actually good.
Why resolutions fail
The main reason so many resolutions fail is because they’re way too ambitious, they’re too vague or they’re not easily measurable. For instance, people who’ve been sedentary for years suddenly announce their resolution to run a marathon or do a (100 mile) century ride without any plans to do shorter events or build up their training gradually. Or they simply say: “This year I’m finally going to get in shape” or “lose weight” or “finally write that book I’ve been talking about for years” without any tangible milestones or benchmarks such as dong 10 more pushups per week, or losing one pound per week, or writing 1,000 words per week or one chapter per month.
Without setting realistic, tangible and easily measurable goals, it’s too easy to make excuses or get discouraged when real-life gets in the way. Harvard Business School professor, Amy Cuddy believes resolutions don’t last because too often we’re setting ourselves up for failure and self-loathing. “We tend to set unreasonable aims for ourselves and then experience negative emotions and a lack of motivation when we don’t reach them,” she observed. “Failing to meet the unreasonable goals we set for ourselves can in turn take a negative toll on our self-worth,” added Cuddy.
When it comes to goal setting, we all go through rough patches and setbacks. Jocko Willink, the retired Navy Seal and motivational speaker says that’s good. “Don’t get bummed out, don’t get startled, don’t get frustrated. Just look at the issue and say: ‘Good.’” Willink says it’s good when things suck because you have more time to take stock of the situation and to find a solution and get better. “Don’t throw in the towel,” barks Willink. “Get up. Dust off. Reload. Recalibrate and Re-Engage.” (Jocko’s brief video is guaranteed to get you fired up!)
As for me, I’m test-driving three resolutions for late Q1 rollout.
- Health. As some of you know I’m a bit of a caffeine addict. Last year I gradually eliminated all soda and chocolate from my diet. In 2024, I’m hoping to reduce my coffee intake by 50% by mid-year, starting by switching to a 6-oz cup from my usual 8-oz mug.
- Work-Life Balance. I’ve learned the hard way that I can’t reduce my hours without a significant loss in income. But for 2024, I’m hoping to keep the hours the same and reduce the amount of work done at night and on the weekend by 25% by mid-year. It starts by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each weeknight and getting to the office 15 minutes earlier each weekday. That’s already a 75-minute improvement each week.
- Fitness. My 20-year-old son and I have committed to doing a #MurphChallenge around the last week of March – and complete it in less than one hour. If you’re not familiar with a Murph Challenge, it was the favorite workout of former Navy SEAL, Michael Murphy of Lone Survivor movie fame. It ain’t easy.The Murph workout includes the following:
- 1 mile run.
- 100 pull-ups.
- 200 push-ups.
- 300 air squats.
- Finish with a second 1 mile run.
Anyone want to join us? Contact me to see how you stack up.
We’re doing 33% of the challenge once per week during January; 50% of the challenge once per week in February and 75% of the challenge once per week in early to mid-March. My son’s a gym rat and will probably crush me on the pullups and pushups. But I’m a faster runner and have better endurance. Should be a good matchup.
As the old proverb goes “Slow and steady wins the race.” Use this month as “exhibition season” to test drive your resolutions for the year ahead. You may have to make some adjustments and eat some humble pie, but you’ll be stronger for it. When you think you’re ready to go live, post them in a public place (see mine above) and have an accountability partner to keep you on track. On those days when you just don’t think you have it, follow the Japanese principle of Kaizen (continuous improvement) getting just 1% better every day. Have a great 2024.
#resolutions, #personalgrowth, #selfawareness, #MurphChallenge