Monday, January 7, 2013

Your New Year's Resolutions Are Doomed To Fail

Writing the first sentence of a blog is always hard. ALWAYS. So is the damn title. And yeah, the title of this is negative, but it made you want to read didn't it?? 

I have a special guest blogger today...my dad!

He needs more pictures of himself. Gahhhh!


 I know...guest blogging, it makes you want to quit reading right here. But with that title how could you not keep reading?? It's long...just a forewarning. My dad is an amazing writer though (maybe I'm biased) so it's worth reading...just keep going. 

Here it is....

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A long- time customer of mine owns a gym. Every January 2 the gym is totally overrun by people who have been pretending they want to get in shape all year and have suddenly decided that it’s time to get started because the date changed. They tie up all the equipment, take up all the space,and monopolize the employees.

His regulars call the new comers ‘resolutionistas’. The regulars tolerate them because they know what happens- over the course of the month fewer and fewer of the new-comers appear. By President’s Day they have all faded away, and its back to the same old same crew again. Every year. Like clockwork.

The owner LOVES the resolutinistas. They allow him to overbook the gym during January, and they continue to pay their monthly fees long after they quit showing up. They’re the perfect customer. And then in April or May, when their significant other says “I thought you were going to get in shape this year,” they feel a little shame, and mumble something about how they are really going to do it next January. That’s the New Year’s Resolution Two Step- failing at whatever the resolution was, and then feeling shitty about the failure.

I probably sound like a bit of a prick, talking shit about people who are just trying to improve themselves. I’m not. It’s the process I hate- I hate New Year’s Resolutions. If someone were to track the nationwide resolution failure rate it would probably be 99.9995%. And each failure leads to someone walking around feeling like a shitbag, thinking “I’m never going to (lose weight/ quit smoking/ get in shape/ learn French).

There’s a better way. And there’s still time to get started.

January is a bad month to start anything new. We just finished a month long frenzy of calories and consumption- it’s doubtful there was much time spent in December on self-reflection, a requirement for changing habitual behavior or undertaking something new.

So that’s what January is for. I spend January thinking about one or two things I want to change or a new subject I want to learn about. And the number is important- if it is more than one or two things, you are guaranteeing failure. People who start the New Year with a laundry list of ten things they want to change about themselves shouldn’t even bother trying. Changing ingrained habits is incredibly hard; you are messing with the hard-wiring of your brain. And if you are trying to rid yourself of an addiction, whether it be heroin or hot dogs you are going to undergo a lot of pain. Trying to do that a learn the banjo at the same time is an exercise in futility.

Once you know what you want to do, refine it. Saying “I want to lose weight” or “I want learn to cook” is just dreaming. A goal has to have specificity- I am going to lose 25 pounds, I am going to reduce my body fat by 10%, I am going to learn to play jazz flute at a Jr. High level. You also need a deadline. If you are determined to lose forty pounds, great. But remember- it is going to be very hard. Without a deadline to give your goal a sense of urgency and a finish line you’ll never get there. “I am going to get a $200 a week raise by September 1, I am going to lose 15 pounds before bathing suit season, I am going to be able to bench 300 pounds by my twenty-fifth birthday.

Now we’re at the end of January. You have one or two goals, they are specific, and you know what the deadline is. Use the month of February to slowly establish the behaviors and habits that are going to get you to your goal by your deadline. Remember, you want your brain on your side in this. If you have been eating 2500 calories a day for the last 20 years and suddenly you drop down to 1200 calories all at once, your brain is going to panic. (This is why fad diets don’t work. Your brain senses the sudden large drop in caloric intake or elimination of essential nutrients and sends urgent ‘gorge yourself or die’ signals to all of your nerve endings. Will power is no match for three billion years of evolution. Smaller portions, less sugar and more exercise don’t cause your brain distress.)  Likewise, if you have being feeding your brain's receptors nicotine twenty times a day for ten years and suddenly stop they are going to react by withholding the release of chemicals that make you feel happy, healthy and wise. Rapid changes are jarring. If you make slow, daily changes you’ll get used to it and the change will be less painful

By the first part of March you have had enough time to begin your new behavior without alarming your body and brain. It’s all downhill from here, right? Wrong. Changing habitual behavior or learning new tricks beyond the age of twelve is haaard. It is going to hurt. There will be times you want to cry. There may be times you will cry. If you fully understand the price of your goal and find yourself waffling, it’s best not to pursue it, because you are probably not going to make it. It’s best to know early if it turns out you’re not willing to pay the price.
But if you are, here’s a path you can follow that gives you the best chance of making the finish line.

A quick note about Chloe’s Dad- I live out in the wilds of Northeast Oklahoma with my wife Brandy, our dog Baylee, and four cats. I’m blessed with the visits of three daughters and two granddaughters. I work for a company that help’s locally-owned businesses manage their electronic payments. This month I am starting a new business, B&B Midwest that will continue to provide that service, plus several others. You can read my business thoughts at my blog, SEKcreditcardguy.blogspot.com.

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There ya have it cupcakes, my first guest post, from my awesome dad! Yeah, it may have sounded negative at first, but the man has a point. And I haven't started any of my resolutions. How about you? I mean there are a couple I've done - but for the most part this hits the hammer on the head. (That's a saying right?) So I'm taking the rest of January to gather my thoughts, write it down, and make a plan. And if you haven't really started either....well now you know that it's never too late! 


2 comments:

Brandy said...

Um,...I love this! Your dad is so right! I'm pretty sure I agree with and have told people many of the same things he said! We think a lot alike! lol

-Brandy @ Sissy-fits.blogspot.com

Coffee Lady said...

I enjoyed reading your dad's post. Excellent.