We are our own worst enemy. How many times have you set a goal for yourself only to have set yourself up to fail...again? The good and bad news is that you aren't alone. "The statistics are bleak: only 8% of people who make New Year's resolutions stick to them, and those who don't usually abandon them after just one week. Unrealistic resolutions are fated to fail. And it's unrealistic to think that you can immediately overcome a habit you have spent years establishing."
The real question is how damaging is it to constantly set goals you have little chance of accomplishing? According to Jessica Lamb-Shapiro, author of Promise Land: My Journey Through America's Self-Help Culture, by setting yourself up for failure "you will do damage to your sense of self-worth. If you already have a complicated relationship with food, your likely coping mechanism for failure is eating more food. Thus, the New Year's resolution to eat less can actually result in your eating more. Ditto drinking, drug use, smoking, finding a mate, exercising, etc. Read on to learn 11 more ways you are setting yourself up for failure before you even begin.
1. Competing or trying to measure up to someone else. Family and Marriage counselor Lisa Bahar warns us that "when a goal is set based on the intention of competing or trying to measure up to someone else, there is a strong likelihood failure will occur, since the emotional basis of the goal is not the goal itself, but rather the underlying emotion that is not consistent with the goal itself."
2. Setting negative goals. "Negative goals are harder to reach because they do not give people a roadmap to follow. They are also harder to encourage. We often make healthy, good for us choices but it is a lot harder for us take inventory of what is not happening than what is. For example "stop smoking" doesn't really take in account people are not typically smoking 24/7. If the goal is "don't smoke" and a person smokes once a day they may feel like a failure and will likely give up. A good goal will say what to do. Try replacing "don't smoke" with "take a walk each time I feel like smoking" or "do 15 minutes of meditative breathing daily." This is the excellent but uncommon advice that Carrie Krawiec, a Troy, Michigan based Marriage and Family Therapist tells her patients.
3. Trying to Lose Weight. Period. Barbara Spanjers, a Las Vegas, Nevada therapist debunks the most common New Year's resolution. She explains, "Your body is sneakier than you are, and it will fight you to keep your weight in a certain range. Diets have a failure rate of 95% - and "diet" means any time you are going by outside rules of what/when/how much to eat. We have way less control over our weight than we think: there are adoption and twin studies showing this. Also, our bodies are just not designed to lose weight. Throughout human history, losing weight was just not something that benefited our survival. Even exercise doesn't significantly lower weight (although it is essential for health). Throughout history, our bodies developed mechanisms to survive food shortages. These biological systems regulate our appetite, energy levels, and metabolism to prevent weight loss. Fast forward to today, where food is abundant, but our bodies still operate on survival mode. When you try to lose weight, your body will fight to keep your weight in a 10-20 pound "set-point" range. It's your body's way of trying to protect you from starvation." Check out 7 rarely discussed reasons you regained the weight for more help!
4. Recognizing that unhealthy behaviors are actually habits. Michael Ellner, Medical hypnotist and Health Coach and co-author of, HOPE is Realistic - A Physician's Guide To Helping Patients Take Suffering Out of Pain offers this explanation, "The number one reason people set themselves up to fail is because they don't understand that their unhealthy behaviors are habits. The key to creating new healthy behaviors is simply repeating the desired behavior until it becomes a habit that replaces the unwanted habit."
5. Good health is a journey and not a destination. Katie Boyd, America's only female beauty pageant training specialist and owner of The Miss Fit Club Gym in Hudson, NH, advises, "Don't go balls to the wall. Everyone who makes the dreaded New Year's resolution to lose 50 pounds, work out every day for 3 hours, never eat sugar again, is setting themselves up for failure and is totally obsessed and attached to an outcome instead of enjoying the pride you feel when you just want to be healthy and happy. Don't be so rigid that there is no wiggle room for happiness and to enjoy the ride...being healthy is not a destination, it is a journey that should never end until your last breath!"
6. Making a resolution to do something you don't like. "The number one priority is to always make resolutions you LIKE. For instance, if you hate jogging, don't decide to go jogging 5 times a week; instead, choose an activity that you actually enjoy (think swimming, dancing, Tae Bo, etc.), and focus on what you'll be doing vs. the quickest path to success." Healthy Living Expert, Valerie Orsoni, Founder of LeBootCamp.com shared this sound advice with Skinny Mom.
7. Focusing too much on the BIG goal. Jean Marcey who founded Wilderness Wellness warns about the downfall of thinking too far ahead and not paying attention to the little steps that will help you reach your goal. Don't forget to celebrate all of the amazing things that happen to you as you follow the path to your BIG goal.
8. If you give up when you get off track. Psychotherapist Jenny Giblin who has been featured on the Dr. Oz show, Real Simple magazine, and Glamour reminds us "to be patient with yourself and give yourself time. Think of the advice that you would give a friend if they got off track. Then, in a non-judgmental way, become aware of and reflect on what you've been telling yourself....usually we are much kinder to others than we are to ourselves! Make the best of this moment, knowing that this attitude will help you stay on track." She also recommends " taking a few moments to really focus on why you didn't stay on track...and see what that is telling you about other areas of your life. If it's something you can control, change it. If not, adapt to it. You may find other areas that are worth focusing on. For example, if you haven't been working out because you haven't been feeling well, it may be worth taking the time to take care of yourself in other ways (going to the doctor, resting in bed, eating better foods, etc.). Instead of feeling guilty for taking a break, trust that by doing so you are taking care of achieving your goals."
9. Trying to lose weight too quickly. "Everyone is impatient these days but they also want their results to last. Learning patience can help you in every area of life too. Permanent weight loss is what we should be targeting with our well-meaning efforts. That's weight lost at a rate of 3-5 pounds a month if you are overweight and 4-7 if you are obese. That means FAT LOSS, and is more likely to be permanent. Losing weight faster is either water weight loss or, worse, indicates valuable parts of the body have been burned and the body will stop the progress because it's deadly, usually through increased, uncontrollable hunger. No product or workout regimes will make you lose more fat or lose it more quickly. The body can only burn a set amount, no matter what anyone says.", explains Pat Barone a Master Certified Coach, certified personal trainer and weight management consultant who works with clients internationally to radically change their relationship to food, their bodies and their lives.
10. Taking it too lightly. According to Katrina Starzhynskaya, holistic nutritionist and bestselling author, until it's a MUST you should not consider it a goal. "People often say "I want" or "I need" or "I should" lose weight. That's too weak of a statement, it does not drive them." Instead, you should think about what really does drive you. For example, even though you might enjoy the way you would look if you lost a few pounds, that alone may not be enough of a goal for you to experience long-term success or success at all for that matter, however if you are truly committed to having more energy that should be your goal and the weight loss that it might produce would just be an added bonus.
11. Doing the same things that haven't worked before and hoping they will work again. Psychotherapist and relationship counselor on The Style Network's XOX Betsey Johnson, Janet Zinn offered this advice to Skinny Mom, "so many make a promise to themselves that this year will be different. I won't be late at my job again. We promise, and for the first few days we may be marginally successful. But if we wake up at the same time we always did, take the same transportation, and make the same stop for coffee on the way to work, nothing will change in the long run. We would have to take the earlier train and wake up 15 minutes earlier. Perhaps bring coffee from home, or anything else that will change the routine."
If you find yourself on the path to failure, take a turn and recreate your goals, mindset and envision growth and opportunity rather than only seeing an uphill battle. For added tips, check out 50 Weight Loss Finds for the New Year!