Five Pitfalls To Avoid When Setting Your New Year’s Resolutions

Jan. 1, 2020

At the beginning of the new year, many people begin to set their resolutions.

These are promises that we make to ourselves on the first day of the year to start doing something good or to stop doing something bad.  

Whether the goal is to be kinder to others or to quit smoking, most people start out with great intentions, but the momentum soon fades and old habits resurface.

We set goals for a reason — we recognize an opportunity for improvement within ourselves, and we want to make a change.

When setting goals, avoid these five pitfalls to not achieving New Year’s resolutions:

  1. Being vague. If you start with a general, nonspecific goal such as “I’m going to start eating better,” without precise action steps, you won’t hit your target. Rather, consider how you are going to achieve your goal. For example, state clearly, “I’m going to increase vegetable intake by two servings per day, or start using whole grain bread instead of white bread.”

  2. Being unrealistic. Aim too high and you set yourself up for failure by creating goals that are not attainable. For example, setting the goal of losing 20 pounds by the end of the month is an unhealthy, unattainable goal. Set smaller, more realistic goals, such as losing 1–2 pounds each week by decreasing portion size of high-calorie foods and increasing physical activity. Always keep long-term goals in mind to stay motivated.

  3. Never writing goals down or tracking your progress. Having your goals written down in black and white is a powerful exercise to help you stick to them. Keep your goals in a visible place, such as on the refrigerator. Setting daily reminders for yourself, such as on your cell phone, can be a great way to stay on track. Many apps are available to help you track nutrition and physical activity.

  4. Never adding to or modifying your goals as time goes on. Perhaps you realize that adding a vegetable with lunch was much easier than you expected. Rather than keeping the same goal over a period of time, push yourself further by setting new goals once you have accomplished your previous ones.

  5. Delaying ideas for improvement. There is no rule that says you have to wait until next week or next year to start making positive lifestyle changes. Why wait? Your fresh start can be today.

It is critically important to make small changes that will enable long-lasting success. Don’t attempt to change too many things at one time, which can feel overwhelming and can lead to failure to uphold the changes. Remember, it’s a journey — not a race. Keep your focus on making small changes for life.

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