Made any New Year’s Resolutions? Sorry to burst your bubble, but they’re probably going to fail.
As many as 90 percent of attempts at change fail, yet New Year’s resolvers are undeterred. In a 2002 report in the journal American Psychologist, University of Toronto researcher Janet Polivy and a colleague came up with a name for this “cycle of failure and renewed effort: the False Hope Syndrome.The False Hope Syndrome is “particularly common among those who resolve to lose weight” due to dieters’ “unrealistic goals and a misunderstanding of [their] own behavior.”
So what’s the secret to setting and achieving goals?
Focus on behaviors, not results. Goals should be S.M.A.R.T: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound. A vague and overreaching resolution like “I wanna drop 30 pounds” is none of the above. Instead, make a checklist of actions that’ll put you in the right direction.
Here, for example, are some of M’s health-related resolutions for 2011:
- Complete the Whole30 program (which is no different from the CrossFit Love Paleo Challenge) in January;
- Complete the Hundred Push-ups program (using an iPhone app to track her progress);
- Lift progressively heavier things at least three times per week; and
- Start a workout journal to log her strength development.
Then again, given that my one resolution this year is to "just keep on keepin' on," it's clear that I'm not following any of the advice above about setting S.M.A.R.T. goals. (It's 'cause I'm D.U.M.B.)