Goals/ Resolutions Don't Lead to Change
Updated: 4 days ago
Ever wondered why all your New Year Resolutions seem to fail as soon as you start them? Or your goal of 6-pack abs in 2 months never really seem to work out the way you envisioned.
We'll explore the reasons why!
Don't stress out over diet "rules". Focus on making better choices every day.
Focus on what you can control, not on what you can't.
Think beyond your Outcome Goals.
Generally, when asked about their fitness or health goals, people often have a pretty good idea of what they want to achieve:
Lift ridiculous weight
Run further/ faster
These are called Outcome Goals. They describe how we want things to be at the end of the process.
So how do we get from "here" to "there"? It's in the in-between that most people struggle with.
Does this cycle sound familiar?
We decide on an Outcome Goal due to an important event - New Year, upcoming wedding, to fit into those tight jeans, etc.
We dive headfirst into the obstacles - getting a gym membership, find online diet plans, create diet "rules" to follow.
We do okay for a few days/weeks, but we eventually stumble and go overboard - missing one workout, became skipping the gym for the week; eating one doughnut, became finishing the box.
We blame ourselves or think that our bodies are against us - "Why can't I just follow this diet plan?"; "I just can't control my cravings!".
We return to our status quo until the next big event, or we find that next "miracle diet/ workout plan", and the cycle repeats.
If you're all too familiar with this cycle, you're NOT alone.
Most people are stuck in this cycle, jumping from the next fad diet to the next workout advice from a "fitness-influencer". Until one day, they finally resolve to think "this is just not for me".
Here's why, and how you can avoid it.
1. All-or-Nothing Mindset
The problem with most Outcome Goals is that they generally revolve around "rules". And these rules are often marketed to us as the secret recipe to success.
"15-minute ab workout for 6-pack abs in 2 weeks."
"Burn stubborn belly fat with this no-carb diet."
"Intermittent fasting is THE way to lose fat."
These rules leave little to no room for error. It inherently primes us to think that if we DO NOT follow the program exactly, it WON'T work. So what happens when we inevitably fail? Which we will, because no one can be perfect 100% of the time.
We swing from one end of the spectrum (perfect diet/ workout adherence) to the other end of the spectrum (I might as well finish the rest of these cookies since I've already failed).
Instead of "All-or-Nothing Rules", use a "Continuum" mindset.
"All-or-Nothing" sets us up for failure, while "Continuum" means we can't really fail, we can only do BETTER or WORSE.
Think of your next diet/workout plan as a spectrum. If you feel disciplined on a good day, you might adhere to your plan and do well. But if you had a bad day, you're tired and cranky, you might do a little worse than usual. Focus on doing better the next day.
Over time, you'll start to understand your moods and how it affects your behaviors. You can then strategize to do better DESPITE these challenges.
2. We Don't Control Outcomes
As much as we may try, we often have no control over certain outcomes. The world is uncontrollable, and life happens:
Increased workload at the office
You fall sick
Your gym closes down
Focusing on what we can't control, only serves to stress us even more, and cause us to trip up EVEN MORE, which only causes even more STRESS. Eventually, it gets so out of hand that we give up on our initial plan entirely.
Instead of "Outcomes", focus on "Behaviors".
We have no control over outcomes, but we do have control over our behaviors. Outcomes are what you want, but behaviors are how you'll get there.
When we focus on our own behaviors, we have an action plan for even the worst of what life throws at us. Basically, we make lemonade from lemons.
The next time you formulate an "Outcome Goal", think of "Behavior Goals" as well.
Outcome: Get 6-pack abs
Behavior: Going to the gym twice a week consistently
Outcome: Lose weight
Behavior: Have fewer snacks around the house
Eventually, even when unexpected circumstances arise, you only have to tweak your behaviors to match your current limitations, but still head towards your eventual goal. Your progress might be slower, but at least you're not throwing the plan out the window.
3. Outcome Goals Aren't The Endgame
I know what you're thinking.
"If only I could even get to my Outcome Goal!"
But when your Outcome Goal is your ONLY goal, it'll set you up to fail even that. When we become too short-sighted in our goals, we get caught up in the small things.
Even when we have an Outcome Goal like "Get fit by the end of the year", however realistic, we expect almost immediate results from our efforts. And when we don't see the results we expect, we get side-tracked into thinking that we're not doing enough, and quickly fall into the "all-or-nothing" trap.
Even when you DO reach your Outcome Goals, without far-sighted motivations, we quickly fall back into old habits.
The process of getting better/ healthier/ fitter is the endgame.
That means the goalpost is always a little bit further than where we are now. There IS no endgame. There is only constant improvement and pursuit of better.
When that becomes our focus, we no longer see minor setbacks or mistakes or slow progress as a struggle. Instead, we focus on the small choices and behaviors we do every day, which eventually lead us to "BETTER".
1. Continuum, not All-or-Nothing
2. Behaviors, not Outcomes
3. The process is the Endgame