Why New Year’s Resolutions = Fail

“A New Year’s resolution is something that goes in one Year and out the other.” Unknown

“May all your troubles last as long as your New Year’s resolutions!” Joey Adams

“I made no resolutions for the New Year. The habit of making plans, of criticizing, sanctioning and molding my life, is too much of a daily event for me.” Anais Nin

Why I Don’t Make New Year’s Resolutions

My wife will be the first to admit that I have a bad memory, but I honestly can’t remember EVER making a New Year’s resolution. Maybe I just don’t like commitment, or I’m a non-conformist rebel, but there has always been something about New Year’s resolutions that didn’t agree with me.

It’s probably because our culture gets so infatuated with New Year’s resolutions every year. It’s in the news, on talk radio, daily shows and night shows. Fitness blogs and websites are among some of the most common places to read about New Year’s resolution strategies because of all the weight loss goals people usually have after the holidays. All those parties, special events, and family get-togethers create a social recipe of excess and undesirable weight gain.

Now, since so much attention is given to New Year’s resolutions and we have access to such an abundance of information, you would think that we’d see dramatic changes in people’s lives throughout each year. I know this may come as a shock, but this isn’t the case. In my experience, New Year’s resolutions amount to little or no actual change in someone’s life. A New Year’s resolution is likened to a wish or a dream that can be ignored, forgotten or easily discarded at any time.

So, every year, I’m faced with the decision about whether to set a New Year’s resolution, and every year I make the same choice. It’s a no-brainer. If it’s not working for the majority of people, then it’s probably not the best strategy. I’ll pass, thank you.

I Need My Info-Fix Man!

Our modern culture, and in particular, the widespread growth of the Internet, has spawned a new type of problem: infoholism. This disorder feeds on New Year’s resolutions. Like alcoholism, infoholism is an addiction, and once you get addicted, it’s hard to quit.

Infoholism: (n) a chronic disorder marked by excessive and usually compulsive absorption of exorbitant amounts of information leading to psychological and physical dependence or addiction.

Infoholic: (n) someone who is suffering from infoholism.

I’ve been around fitness circles both online and offline for long enough to know an infoholic when I see one. It’s the guy or gal who has been on what seems like a life-long journey to discover the next best thing that can help them reach their health, fitness, or athletic goals. They read books, magazines, blogs and forums to get all the latest info – leaving no stone unturned. They can tell you all about the latest diets and fitness programs that were just released, along with the most promising upcoming supplement lines. An infoholic is a textbook know-it-all.

This sounds like a special gift indeed. After all, who wouldn’t want to experience a greater acquisition of information? But there’s a dark side to the infoholism addiction. One of the side-effects of infoholism includes excessive and prolonged procrastination. This form of internal resistance does wonders for the infoholic, making it nearly impossible to apply all that information. Basically, an infoholic is someone with a mind brimming with ideas, but who cannot put those ideas to practical use. It’s the ADHD of knowledge. Infoholics are all talk, but no walk. All theory, no practice. Inert. Inept.

Procrastination (I’ll Think of a More Specific Title Later)

Both infoholics and New Year resolvers are facing the same problem. These people are wishful dreamers. While, they may not lack desire or access to information or resources, they lack action. They’ve probably also nurtured a habit of procrastination until it becomes an art form.

Why New Year's Resolutions = Fail
Photo Credit: www.despair.com


Concerning procrastination, I like this quote by Steven Pressfield, author of The War of Art (2002):

Procrastination is the most common manifestation of Resistance because it’s the easiest to rationalize. We don’t tell ourselves, “I’m never going to write my symphony.” Instead we say, “I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.” The most pernicious aspect of procrastination is that it can become a habit. We don’t just put off our lives today; we put them off till our deathbed. (p. 21-22)

How to Kill Procrastination

Maintaining health and fitness is not complicated. Sure, it’s true that some fitness methods work better than others, but we already know the fundamental facts. Most people just need to act on those facts.

The truth is that we already know almost everything we could ever need to enjoy better health, fitness, and athleticism. There are tried-and-true methods for achieving practically any health or fitness goal already well-established in coaching circles and research journals alike. We’re in the 21st century and we know what works. If people just got the sleep they needed, ate the foods they know are good for them, and engaged in some vigorous physical activity regularly, most of the health problems we are facing on an epic scale would begin to disappear. It’s not a lack of knowledge or information that is the problem, it’s a lack of action. Consistent, disciplined, hard work is always more effective than a perfectly planned regime that is pursued halfheartedly. Action always solves more problems than planning.

Now and in the future, you need to make it a point to ACT on what you already know to be true. Don’t waste your life spending exorbitant amounts of time trying to figure out the next best thing or waiting until the time is right. The time is now…

The following clip was taken from a speech by billionaire extraordinaire, Art Williams, for the National Association of Religious Broadcasters in 1987. Art had a slow start to his career, but is now on the Forbes list of World Billionaires because of what he applied in this speech…

The best time to think about your health and fitness was ten years ago. The next best time is today! — Dr. Uche Odiatu

Now, you’re faced with a choice. This decision is no different than it has ever been. It’s not special because of the time of year or any other circumstances. It’s just like any other decision you’ve ever made, and have been making your entire life. You’ve made hundreds, if not thousands of decisions today already – some consciously, some subconsciously.

The truth is that the only thing separating you from the life you desire is your own free will.

Never forget: This very moment, we can change our lives. There never was a moment, and never will be, when we are without the power to alter our destiny. This second, we can turn the tables on Resistance. This second, we can sit down and do our work. Steven Pressfield (The War of Art, 2002, p. 22)

Now, I know that you know exactly what to do. So, just do it.

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CST, CST-KS, NSCA-CPT
Fitness Professional

19 Responses

  1. New Year resolutions fail because people don’t take them seriously (in fact, they’re mostly a joke, you’re supposed to fail them). I took mine (first resolution ever) seriously last year, and I ended up getting in much better shape and dropping 20 pounds. I met my goal in 4 short months. I’m equally serious about my resolution this year, to gain as much lean muscle as I can. I know I can do it, it’s not unreasonable, and it’s something I truly want. It’s not something that I can say I’m done with early, there’s no end point.

  2. Thanks for this great article John!
    I am one of the infoholics but not just in fitness but also in business, sales, etc. I just do things halfheartedly and it drives me nuts. Procrastination is both my best friend and my worst enemy, it is a weight that drags on and on and cutting the chain proves to be difficult. I have bookmarked that video from Art Williams and I will surround myself by motivation videos and I need – no – I will get things done! I know I can and I am going to do it.

    Thanks for the kick in the butt

    Al

    • It’s an issue everyone faces, Alan. You just need to recognize it when it strikes and get right back on track.

  3. Thank you so much for both the video and the article, really enjoyed what you had to say and printed it so I can continue to take it in. It was one of those “hurt so good” moments for me as I have seen this tendency building in my own life but couldn’t quite put a finger on it. This was a timely word for me. I really enjoy your site, have a blessed new year.

    • I’m glad to help, Donna. Sometimes a hard message is just what I need to level with myself and get stuff done, too. It’s better to hear it earlier than hit rock bottom later.

      You say this was a timely word. So, in my mind, it wasn’t a coincidence. Have a blessed 2011.

  4. Pretty much everything people say they are going to do “in the new year” are better contemplated day-to-day and minute-to-minute.

  5. This post is right on the money, John. I’m a typical infoholic.
    The problem with reolutions is just that … they’re resolutions. This year I’m replacing resolutions with a list of actions and milestones.
    By the end of January, I will have completed month one of Clubbell Mass Evolution.
    By the end of today, I will have completed the CBME Action Guide.
    By the end of today, I will have determined which schedule to adopt as part of CBME.
    By the end of February, I will have completed month two of Clubbell Mass Evolution.
    More to follow.

    Replace resolutions with actions and I’m guessing you can’t go wrong.
    That’s my resolution!!! :-)

    • Michael,

      “actions and milestones” sounds like the formation of goals to me!

      I like your list – definitely go through the action guide and take it seriously. There’s a lot of potential for personal growth in that workbook.

      The habit of action itself is a good goal to establish for some people – it’s one of my focuses right now actually. Usually, our struggle is not in the planning or preparation, but in overcoming resistance in the heat of the moment. We might have everything perfectly planned out, but when the pressure is on; we fold. Treating action-taking as a skill puts it into a new perspective in your mind because you start looking for opportunities to practice and improve. So, when that temptation to quit, be lazy, or do something else strikes, a red flag pops up in your mind saying, “this is a test, and I can either pass or fail right now.” It’s a psychological strategy for giving yourself a wake-up call every time the resistance strikes.

      If you make action your goal, with an uncompromising standard for overcoming resistance when it rears its ugly head, you’ll have the best 2011 you possibly can.

      Enjoy the Clubbell Mass Evolution!

  6. Nice post John. I couldn’t agree more. But the problem is not procrastination (it is only a symptom). The problem is resistance. And resistance is there for a reason. So some “resistance analysis”, like in psychoanalysis, is in order if you want to be able to change procrastination and “avoiding strategies” like infoholism.

    • Andrea, you read my mind :-)

      Stay tuned for an upcoming post about overcoming resistance.

  7. John,
    I don’t think I can read minds.
    I think wie have similar perspectives on certain things. Which is why I am here. :-)
    I am looking forward to your next post.

  8. That’s the kind of articles that make me regularly check your blog !

    I’m an infoholic, I spend too much time searching info and too less applying them.
    A few weeks ago (not a new year’s resolution) I’ve decided to stop this endless search.

    I have a strength workout that I trully enjoy (gymnastic style) but despite that was always looking for “better”.
    Now I just say to myself “If it’s not broken, don’t fix it”.
    This simple sentence really made a difference.

    From now on I only check a few selected blogs and websites and, thanks to you, will stick to :
    -Intuflow (as a warmup before strength workout or cardio)
    -gymnastics for strength
    -Prasara for cool down, stretching (Prasara Primer bought, waiting for Flow Beyond Thought)

    ( + of course running and other oudtoor activities).

    Keep on the good posts.

  9. This is so very well-stated:

    Consistent, disciplined, hard work is always more effective than a perfectly planned regime that is pursued halfheartedly.

    As a recovering infoholic myself, one tip that works well for me is to set minimum standards. Most infoholics are “maximizers” (to use Barry Schwartz’s term from The Paradox of Choice). It’s better to do anything for 10-20 minutes a day involving movement than try to maximize the best possible program for diet and exercise.

    • Thanks for sharing that, Duff. This is a big part of the issue. Too many people sabotage their efforts trying to maximize their results. They miss the forest for the trees.

  10. I totally agree with this infoholism. I’ve been a huge infoholic for a long time. A few years ago I:
    A. realized that I wasn’t actually using any of this vast amount of information that I was hoarding.
    B. was prodded by a friend to sign up for a race.

    Those two things spurred me on to actually start to put the rubber to the road. Now I’m still an infoholic, but I’m aware of it and I’m making great strides towards taking action. In the last two years my health and fitness have skyrocketed; I’ve lost fat, gained muscle, feel better, look better and am all around living much better. I think the one thing people should try to keep in mind is, from the immortal words of Og Mandino:

    “I will act now. I will act now. I will act now.”

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