Updated: Mar 16
While we may roll our eyes when we hear the term “New Year’s Resolutions,” the truth is that many of us like the idea of setting a resolution at the start of the year, because we truly do want to better ourselves and grow.
Growth feels good, especially when we’re improving our health, wellness, and happiness.
The problem is that healthy, positive growth can be difficult to accomplish, particularly when we don’t have a clear direction. So we try to give ourselves a direction by setting a special resolution on January 1st.
This is great in theory, but by the time January 31st rolls around, many of us are starting to resent our resolutions, or find ourselves throwing in the towel.
We’ll just have to try again next year, right?
If you haven’t stuck with your resolutions in the past, it may not be ‘you’ that’s the problem — it may be the resolution itself.
Here are 5 mistakes that people often make when setting a resolution to workout more, eat better, or to be healthier. These mistakes make it more difficult to commit to the resolution and follow through. Below, I’ll offer some fixes for common mistakes people make when setting New Year’s Resolutions (or any goal really), so you can reframe your resolution into something that’s far easier for you to actually stick with!
Mistake 1. Setting Vague or Abstract Goals
A common mistake that I see people make when setting their fitness and nutrition goals is setting goals that are lofty, vague, and abstract.
Have you ever set a goal to:
“Exercise more often”
“Eat better this year”
“Stop eating so much junk food”
When my clients mention goals like these, my first question is: How will you know when you’ve succeeded? When can you cross off “stop eating so much junk food” and call it complete? How do you know when you’ve accomplished “eating better”?
All of the ideas above, while they are great in theory, are very abstract — they’re difficult to measure, track, and know when you’ve “accomplished” your goal.
The Fix: Put SMART Structure Around Your Goals
Whenever you set a health goal, make sure it’s SMART. SMART is an acronym referring to goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (or Time-Bound).
Using SMART as your guide will help you craft goals that are easier to track, stick with over time, and most importantly, clearly see when you’ve achieved them (because is there any better feeling than writing that big check mark next to a goal you’ve completed?).
Here are examples of SMART nutrition goals:
Meal prep or batch-cook enough protein and vegetables for 3 days worth of meals each week for the next four weeks.
Eat 5-8 servings of vegetables per day for one whole month.
Here are examples of SMART fitness goals:
Exercise for at least 20 minutes, three days per week, for the next six weeks.
Attend two workout classes each week for the next two months.
Make your exercise goals even easier by joining my Slay & Namaste OnDemand Membership, where you’ll get access to my live and recorded classes for fitness and yoga. I even include a calendar with recommended workouts each day to keep you on track! (Maybe you’ll be inspired to set your next SMART goal to attend a number of on-demand classes per week.)
Mistake 2. Creating “Success or Failure” Resolutions Only
Have you resisted setting a resolution because you have a negative association with the tradition? Maybe you dread setting New Year’s resolutions, because it feels disappointing and demotivating when you fall off track.
I know that I’ve often felt disappointed when I find myself straying from a goal I’ve set, or failing to meet a milestone that I want to achieve. The sense of “failing” at a goal can often turn us away from setting other goals or any goal in the first place, which makes us feel all the more stressed.
Thinking of your resolutions as black and white — either you are successful and complete it perfectly, or you fail — is a sneaky thought pattern that you may not even notice yourself doing. Many of us connect our resolutions to a rigid outcome, which makes it easy to miss the mark (even slightly) and feel completely let down.
The Fix: Reframe Your Resolution as an Intention
Your resolution doesn’t have to be only a success or only a failure. In fact, you don’t even have to call it a “resolution” at all. Try reframing your next goal as an intention instead of a resolution.
A resolution tends to bring up negative thoughts or feelings, where an intention focuses on creating more abundance in your life. By setting an intention, you don’t attach yourself to a specific outcome. It isn’t about being perfect, it’s about the journey to your SMART goals.
As with any great journey there will be ups, downs, lefts, rights and everything in between — but as long as you continue taking small steps, you will be following your intention to improve. Even if you fall short of your goal one day, you haven’t failed. It is simply another step along the journey.
Mistake 3. Setting Goals That Don’t Fit Your Schedule
It’s tempting to set a big goal, like to workout five days a week, or to make home-cooked meals everyday. We all want to dream big, right?
Dreaming big is great (and I encourage it!) but the reality is that you don’t reach big goals by taking giant leaps; you reach them by taking small steps and hitting mini goals consistently. And if your big goal doesn’t realistically fit into your current daily schedule, you’re not likely to stick to it.