2023-01-15

2 minute read

Advice given on January 15, 2023.

New Years Resolu-slump

Hey Jay,

I’ve set myself New Years Resolutions for the past 5 years and I’ve never been able to stick to them. I’m afraid the same thing is going to happen again this year. Do you have any advice on how to stick to my resolutions? I feel stuck in a New Years Resolu-slump, so to speak. Any advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Slumped

Slumped,

You’ve come to the right place. I recently learned I’ve got a reputation as someone that comes up with resolutions and sticks to them. So maybe I can help you stick your resolutions out too. First, you might need to re-think how you’ve formulated your resolutions. I believe a good resolution is specific, measurable, and feasible. It should be something that you have no trouble defining, and can clearly delineate; this prevents you from blurring the line between actions that are and are not part of your resolution. For example, a resolution like “I want to exercise more” is too vague, it would be better to say something like, “I want to exercise 3 times a week”, and then all of a sudden your resolution is quantifiable and measurable. But it is also important for your resolution to be feasible, if you do not exercise at all now, a resolution like, “I want to exercise 7 times a week for at least 1 hour per day” does not seem realistic. It is necessary to find a way to set your resolutions such that they capture all three of these criteria.

Once you’ve defined (or re-defined) your resolutions, the next step is committing to them and performing. Over the course of a year, it is entirely possible that what was feasible in January might not be feasible in June. Things change, and you have to be flexible and willing to adjust your resolution if needed. This does not mean you should set resolutions that are not sustainable, but rather that you should forgive yourself if you fall short at some period, and take the time to re-assess. For example, if your resolution was to exercise 3 times a week, and one week you only exercised twice, because work was hectic, you should reflect on the week and figure out what you can do in the future to get your third workout in. Maybe that would require waking up early a few times a week, or maybe it requires blocking off your calendar ahead of time to ensure you have time to exercise 3 times in the week. Or maybe, you broke your leg and can’t exercise at all for several weeks (or months). In that case, your should re-evaluate why you set your exercise resolution in the first place. If your goal was to lose weight, maybe you can still work towards that bigger goal by changing your diet now that exercise is off the table. The larger point here is to think about the motivation behind any of your resolutions, and make adjustments over the course of the year to ensure you are either successful in executing on your resolutions as they were defined in January, or that you are able to adjust your resolutions to work towards your bigger-picture goals.

Hope this helps,

Jay