by Sid Garza-Hillman

Now a little over a month into 2016, I thought it might be a good time to discuss New Year’s resolutions! Many people begin the new year with big plans, but by now those plans are starting to fade…

Have you noticed that people are either totally for or totally against New Year’s Resolutions? I used to be squarely in the ‘against’ camp, but I’ve changed my tune. Here’s why.

The reason most New Year’s resolutions don’t work is the same reason diets and quick fixes don’t work–they’re too big a behavior to take on all at once. Most people go with a resolution like: “I’m going to go to spin class 5 days a week starting now!” when before December 31 they weren’t ‘spinning’ at all. In a matter of weeks, they typically stop altogether. Guess what: Too much too soon.

Before diving in on a gargantuan undertaking, I’d recommend people first get beneath the surface of a “Spin Class Resolution” and find out what they really want from the spin class–more energy, more vitality, and/or reaching a healthy weight. In this way they hone in on a more general goal which they can then choose to pursue in a more manageable way.

Applying real thought to New Year’s resolutions can be both an excellent opportunity to discover areas in your life that you’d like to improve, and a way to engage in the process of making sustainable change by finding out what you’re able and willing to take on. This is the way one avoids the burnout, failure, and undo stress of more typical, unachievable New Year’s Resolutions–Resolutions that set you up for failure rather than success.

So, before you make a resolution to lose 30 pounds, try thinking about the resolution you might really want to make. Then, set about making a long term plan to work toward it. Ease your way in and find activities that bring joy into your life. Is your resolution to exercise? Is one squat per day super easy (or just one spin class per week)? Then start there. Very quickly you’ll be ‘someone who exercises,’ at which point, over time you can transition the one squat to two, two to four, four to a five-minute walk and so on…until? A successful New Years Resolution!

Most of us want to live better as soon as possible, but taking on too much and burning out does the opposite of getting us closer to this reality. New Year’s Resolutions do work, but only when they’re made from a place of self-consideration, self-kindness, self-care, and a clear understanding of what it means for each of us to be healthier and happier.