Why New Years Resolutions Fail. How to Stick to Your New Years Resolutions in 2020

December 30th, 2019

With the new year almost upon us, you probably have started to reflect back on this past year. Did you accomplish everything you set out to do? Were you able to follow through with any of your New Year’s resolutions? Chances are that the answer is no. Studies have shown that while nearly half of Americans make New Year’s resolutions, a whopping eighty percent abandons them during the first 30 days of the year. A mere eight percent of the population will actually continue to follow through with their end of the year promises.

People have been making – and breaking – New Year’s resolutions for thousands of years. Archeological findings have shown that ancient Babylonians, who inhabited Mesopotamia nearly 4.000 years ago, celebrated the new year and made promises to the gods for the upcoming year. Ancient Romans made promises to Janus, the god of beginnings, and ancient Egyptians made sacrifices to Hapi, the god of the Nile river, at the beginning of their new year in July.

There is a reason why setting goals for the year ahead is so attractive to humans. There is something both emotional and hopeful about the promise of a clean slate, an opportunity to try again. For most of us, the start of a new calendar year brings, if only temporarily, a new and improved mindset. We tend to be more optimistic during the first few months of the year. Armed with the knowledge of the mistakes we made the year before, we finally have the motivation to improve the aspects of our lives we’ve always wanted to change.

But then, almost like clockwork, our resolutions and goals end up in the back burner as we settle back into our daily routines and day to day struggles. So why do we insist on making promises to ourselves that, deep down, we know we are not going to keep? Psychologists believe that failing to stick to our New Year’s resolutions boils down to two factors: not being specific enough and not being clear.

Generally speaking, the vast majority of New Year’s resolutions are too vague for us to follow through, psychologists say. Take, for example, some of the most popular New Year’s resolutions: eating healthier, losing weight, saving money, exercising more, and quitting smoking. On the surface, these are all plausible and attainable goals. But when we don’t have strategies in place to go after our goal, we end up losing interest, feeling overwhelmed, and making up excuses.

The next time you make a New Year’s resolution ask yourself: “How am I going to accomplish this?” and “what resources – material or otherwise – do I need to stick to this resolution?” Then, make a plan and gather the resources you will need to go after your goal. For example, if you want to eat healthier, find healthy recipes that look appealing to you, research ingredients, and look for healthy alternatives to foods you already like. If you want to quit smoking, decide ahead of time what approach you are going to take. Don’t wait until the first week of the year to start thinking how you are going to tackle these new aspirations.

On the other hand, if you are one of those people who maps out their entire year, creates flow charts, strategic plans, and everything in between to make their goals happen but you still fall short each year, you may not be ready to change – or at least not in the way you think. The path to self-growth is not a straight line, so if you are making, and failing at the same goals each year, it’s time to rethink what and why you want to change.

The fact that we sit down to write or think about the things we want to accomplish next year is proof alone that we are a species eager to improve. But if you wish to have the satisfaction to have met your goals by the end of next year, it is important to understand that resolutions have to be both feasible and personally meaningful. To begin with, strive to make one to three resolutions per year. It may be easy to forget during the holidays, but we are all busy people with countless daily responsibilities. Dumping a laundry list of self-improvement projects on top of those responsibilities is setting yourself up for failure.

Also, take a few minutes to think about why you want to accomplish these goals. For instance, trying to lose weight so other people will think you look better will almost always get you nowhere. Making a resolution just because everybody else is doing it won’t do much for you either. When you really sit down to think about it, you may find that your resolution might not be meaningful to anybody else but you. In fact, it might not even be that big of a change, but it surely will be something that will make you feel proud of yourself once you accomplish it.

The New Year’s resolutions that we usually meet are the ones that bring us immediate and continuous feelings of happiness and accomplishment. When we take too long to see the fruits of our efforts, we become impatient and unmotivated (unless we are doing something extremely meaningful or exciting for us). Goals that are too difficult, time-consuming, or that we ultimately feel aren’t worth our time and effort are the ones we tend to abandon first.

So, if you are planning on making resolutions this year, remember that self-improvement is a personal process. No goal is too small or too specific. In fact, when you start from a detailed and realistic standpoint, you will be more successful than if you made huge, overambitious resolutions.

Good Habits Matter

6 Resolutions for a Happy and Healthy New Year.
What you do today, matters tomorrow.  With a little consistency, there are big benefits to small changes and creating healthy habits.

1. PRACTICE CONSCIOUS BREATHING – Many of us do not breathe correctly. For the mind and body to function well, they need oxygen. If you find yourself holding your breath at times, have a very short breath, feel the need to take a deep breath or run out of breath, you may not be breathing correctly throughout the day. Here is a simple breathing exercise to help you learn to breathe properly: 4-7-8 Breathing Technique

a. Empty the lungs of air
b. Inhale quietly and deeply through your nose for 4 seconds, letting the air fill your abdomen not just your chest.
c. Hold your breath for a seven seconds
d. Exhale forcefully through the mouth pursing the lips and making a “whoosh” sound for 8 seconds.
e. Repeat the 4 -7- 8 cycle 4 times

There are many health benefits to deep breathing as it allow your body to fully exchange incoming oxygen with outgoing carbon dioxide. This is also a great relaxation and rejuvenation technique that can be used when you are feeling tired, stressed, or anxious.

2. GET MORE SLEEP – Many people never reach the restorative stage of DEEP SLEEP or if they do, they don’t remain there very long. Deep sleep is important for restoring the body and brain and for the consolidation of memories Sleep is an essential part of your overall health and lack of it can lead to serious health issues, including heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. Proper sleep supports brain function and protects against inflammation and cellular damage. Reestablishing healthy sleep patterns is the most powerful tool you can rely on for health, happiness and longevity.
a. Fix a bedtime and awakening time. Don’t let those times drift. The body “gets used” to falling asleep at a certain time but only if it is relatively fixed.
b. Avoid alcohol 4-6, hours before bedtime. While alcohol has an immediate sleep-inducing effect, a few hours later as the alcohol levels in your blood start to fall, there is a stimulant or wake-up effect.
c. Avoid fatty, sugary or spicy foods 4-6 hours before bedtime. Instead, try eating slow release carbohydrate foods such as pinto beans or crackers just before bedtime. Many people wake up in the middle of the night due to a drop in blood sugar which this will help to prevent. Take steps in 2020 to improve your sleep.
d. Optimize your bedroom environment. Minimize external noise and lights and make sure it is a quiet, clean, comfortable and relaxing place.
e. Exercise regularly but not before bed. Move more throughout the day. Exercise can enhance all aspects of sleep and has been used to reduce symptoms of insomnia.
f. Don’t drink a lot of liquid 1-2 hours before going to bed.
g. For many people, irregular sleep patterns developed over time and may take a couple of weeks to break. Consider taking a dietary supplement like Sleep All Night for reestablishing healthy patterns.

3. PRACTICE MINDFUL EATING RATHER THAN DIETING. Make a conscious effort to make healthier food choices such as cutting back on sugary beverages and eating healthier, nutrient dense foods, such as whole foods (foods that are as close to their natural form as possible, not processed).
a. Add more vegetables to your diet by preparing them in advance, slice them into to smaller pieces and put them into small bags that you can easily grab for a snack on the go or throw them into a casserole, stir fry, or dip in hummus.
b. Consider fruit infused water, tea, sparkling water or veggie juice before reaching for a sugary soda.
c. Consider a sugar substitute such as stevia or erythritol to provide sweetness without the high glycemic load. A high sugar diet has been linked to several adverse health effects including the risk of diabetes, obesity, and some types of cancer.

4. INTERMITTENT FASTING – Eating your meals in a 6 to 8 hour window and abstaining from food for 16 to 18 hours can not only help with weight loss, but studies also suggest it may decrease the risk of disease and depression while increasing longevity.1  Intermittent fasting is more of a lifestyle than a diet. For example eating between the hours of 10:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m., or 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., allows the body to have a prolonged period of rest without calorie intake. During the fasting state, the body burns more stored fat for energy.

5. SIT LESS – Many people sit for a good portion of the day, either at work, in front of a computer or while relaxing at home. A recent study estimated that American adults spend an average of 11 to 12 hours a day sitting. Studies also show that sitting for long periods of time increases risk of heart disease and death.
a. Get up and move even if it is in small 1-5 minute intervals to reduce this risk.
b. Use a reminder. Consider downloading one of many applications that remind you when you’ve been sitting too long and prompt you to get up and move. “Randomly RemindMe” is a great app to help you create healthy habits. You can customize it for any random reminder throughout the day such as; drink more water, step away from the computer, do 10 sit-ups. Other applications include; “Stand Up! The Work Break Timer,” “Move – Daily Activity to Stay Healthy” and “StandApp”.

6. 20 MINUTES OF MODERATE EXERCISE – If you already have an exercise routine, keep up the good work. If not, adding 20 minutes of moderate exercise a day, like light brisk walking, can extend your life and reduce the risk of heart disease. Get rid of the all-or-nothing attitude. You don’t have to spend hours at the gym or walk for miles. Adding modest amounts of physical activity to your weekly routine can have a profound effect on your physical, emotional and mental health.

DON’T OBSESS OVER RESULTS, FOCUS ON CONSISTENCY – Be good to yourself. Don’t feel negative or beat yourself up about your current situation. Put your past mistakes and unhealthy choices behind you. Start fresh with healthier decisions which will lead to healthy habits, a healthier lifestyle and a healthier and happier you.

Happy New Year!

From all of us at Akeso Health Sciences, best wishes for a wonderful, and healthy new decade.