In just a few weeks it will be the start of a new year which is when people vow to create new beginnings for themselves.
A new year symbolizes a fresh start, which is why so many people subscribe to New Year’s resolutions. Whether you’ve been wanting to lose weight, quit smoking, advance your career, or start dating again, Jan 1st always seems to be the preferred date to start changing undesirable habits or traits.
And there is absolutely nothing wrong with setting goals to better yourself. In theory, New Year’s resolutions are admirable and commendable – particularly if the individuals making them follow through with those commitments.
However, New Year’s resolutions (more often than not) set people up for failure and, subsequently, don’t send the best message to our children.
Here’s the thing with resolutions: 99% of the time, people tackle them with an all-or-nothing attitude. For example, if a person decides they want to eat healthier, they’ll start the new year off with completely eliminating everything “bad” from their diet. This well-intentioned dietary change lasts maybe a few weeks or months until that person realizes it’s not the most practical or sustainable lifestyle to subscribe to and completely relinquishes their New Year’s commitment.
Having been a personal trainer for a number of years, I can’t tell you how many people go into the upcoming year fully intending to commit to working out. These are usually the people that show up to the gym every single day in January and February, only to never be seen again.
Why does this happen? Because very few people have the time or dedication to workout every day of the week, just like very few people can subsist off juicing or going to bed early every night or cleaning their house every Saturday.
New Year’s resolutions rarely have lasting power because people aren’t practical with their approach. The “all-or-nothing” attitude is a surefire way to set oneself up for failure. So, we need a different approach; we need to create habits that are practical and have lasting power. It’s the small tweaks in everyday behavior that have the most lasting power and yield the best results.
That way, should you miss a day at the gym or imbibe in an alcoholic beverage or (god forbid) indulge in a bagel, you don’t have to feel like a complete failure and this one isolated event won’t completely derail all of your hard work.
Lifestyle changes are all about creating new habits and that takes practice and time. Just like playing a sport or mastering a talent or moving up in your career, the path to greatness is littered with mistakes. That’s normal and that’s part of being human.
And this lesson in fortitude is an important trait to instill in our kids. By proclaiming grandiose New Year’s resolutions only to later give up on them because you slipped once or twice is an AWFUL message to send to our youth.
Just like anything else you succeeded at, it probably took a lot of mistakes, slip-ups, and setbacks to finally get to the point that you’re good at it. And that’s ok, because lasting changes happen in small steps, not giant leaps and our kids need to understand that if they are going to do well in life.