It is January 3rd, 2021.
We have begun the year with a hopeful heart for new beginnings and healing, despite the coronavirus emotional baggage.
In particular, there is one ray of hope that is shining extra brightly.
The hope to eat cleaner, sleep deeper or move more.
These dreams and visions are fueled by social media posts that are brimming with optimism and inspiration.
We got good traction this week.
We joined the hardest HIIT class that there is in town.
We eliminated gluten or dairy or both.
Some of us went vegan.
Some of us started meditating.
We posted Instagram stories of our wins, blogged about it and high-fived everyone around us to celebrate this new found momentum.
Enter March 2021.
We are back to our December 2020 behaviours.
Maybe unhealthy snacking?
One too many desserts?
Or poor sleep hygiene?
If this lost momentum resonates with you, here are 5 reasons that may be the culprit. Addressing even one of them could set you up for success for the rest of the year.
1. Unclear on your Inner Why
When we are unclear on our Big WHY for making all the healthful changes, it is hard to stay motivated. One way to get to our innermost Why is to ask ourselves “Why” we want to achieve a particular lifestyle change. We do this recursively 5 times.
- I want to lose 10 lb of weight.
- To look great in my clothes and feel good in my body.
- To feel confident, healthy and energetic.
- So that I can start going out on dates and find a potential partner.
- So that I have companionship
- So that I am not lonely when I grow old.
When we link the health change to address a deeper need, we find it easier to stay motivated.
2. Misalignment in values or beliefs
It is possible that we are attempting a lifestyle change that is not in alignment with our values or beliefs. This can feel like a stuckness that we are unable to explain.
We could be making intelligent excuses or procrastinating smartly to bypass this stuckness.
As humans we are wired to live in alignment with both are values and beliefs, which typically don’t change very much.
Here is an example. Person A was raised vegetarian and grew up with a belief system that animal foods are not good for her or the planet. If this person is trying to be on a high animal-protein diet due to a trending fad that focusses on muscle building, then there could be challenges in sticking the change out.
3. Not convinced the change is essential
This is a sneaky one!
There are some changes that we decide to make because we are forced into it because of peer pressure or we do it for a loved one. We are not convinced in our hearts that this particular lifestyle change is something that could shift us to a healthier state.
In the Transtheoretical model (TTM) by Prochaska & Prochaska (1983), behavior change starts with someone being in the “Pre-contemplation” or “Contemplation” stage. In these stages, the person is still ambivalent about whether this change is the right choice for him/ her.
When we jump into the “Action” phase of making behavior change, without getting past the contemplation and ambivalence stage, then there could be a sustainability issue.
4. Lack of SMART goals
Once we overcome some of the mindset blocks i.e. the first three reasons listed above, we get to the execution piece. We are all driven by outcome goals, which describe results.
For eg. I want to sleep 8 hours a night. OR I want to lose 5 pounds.
Just like there are SMART goals at the workplace that are reviewed on a regular basis as part of performance appraisal, we need to craft wellness goals as SMART ones too.
(SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific , Measurable, Attainable , Realistic, Time-Bound)
So creating a goal along the lines of – “I will do a cardio workout for 30 minutes on Monday, Wednesday, Friday, during my lunch hour for the next 2 weeks”, is going to lead to action and momentum toward the overall outcome goal.
5. Lack of resource mobilization
When we are forming our SMART goals, we need to mobilize both our external and internal resources. Internal resources are our natural strengths, skills and passions.
External resources include partners, family members, nanny, coach, community or a best friend.
So, as you are creating SMART goals and Outcome goals, ensure that the goals are not only in alignment with your values and beliefs, but also leverage your internal as well as external resources. This will give you the much needed momentum to carry you beyond the first 60 days of the new year.
Reminder: We are not meant to be doing great things in isolation.
Happy “sticking” to resolutions for the remainder of the year!