• 5 Ways to Avoid Resolution Failure in 2018

    Since we’re hurtling toward January 1 at warp speed, I’m here with 5 ways to avoid resolution failure in 2018.

    Stop! Before you make any resolutions in 2018, get these 5 tips for avoiding resolution failure. Make changes really stick and keep motivation going. See how! | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    I know. There’s a zillion blog posts about this.

    Everyone and their brother is bound to be talking about why New Year’s Resolutions suck or, conversely, why they’re the key to your success, happiness, lifelong achievement, and good hair.

    I’ve got quite the history with resolutions.

    Every single January, I’d make some lofty, grand, sweeping gesture…

    …proclaiming to the Universe the kind of person I was finally going to become. O! The chance to finally prove my worthiness, if only I could stick it out past the first couple weeks.

    And then, I’d inevitably fail at meeting said lofty goal, feel crappy about my lack of follow through, and then use that as proof of the shit, unlovable, rotten-to-the-core human that I really was. Not exactly healthy.

    But then in January 2010, I resolved to “go paleo.” It was just another notch in the belt of New Year’s commitments that I’d excitedly make…everything from giving up meat (2007, maybe?) to losing the 10 pounds that I thought would make me fucking happy (every year, in perpetuity).

    When the 10th of January 2010 rolled around – just checked…it was a Sunday – I took a big-ass trash bag and cleared out my pantry and fridge. I chucked out boxes of cereal, tins of black beans, and everything that wasn’t on the giant list of paleo “yes” foods that I’d found.

    At first, it felt like every other resolution I’d ever made. Full of optimism and vigor and huzzah, poised on a knife edge to fizzle out quicker than a firework.

    But then, something happened.

    I kept going. And going. And going. And here we are, nearly 8 years later. I’m not “strict” paleo like I was back in those days but I found a way of eating that worked for me, was sustainable, and finally helped me feel better than I had in years.

    What made the difference? What about my 2010 proclamation helped me avoid resolution failure?

    I realize, looking back, that I incorporated most of these strategies I’m sharing below.

    Stop! Before you make any resolutions in 2018, get these 5 tips for avoiding resolution failure. Make changes really stick and keep motivation going. See how! | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    Look, I don’t make New Year’s Resolutions anymore – that’s my personal take on it – but far be it from me to tell you what’s right for you. We’re all different.

    That being said, I’ve been coaching people for a long time, and there are strategies for making your resolutions actually work. Yes, that means throwing out the way you’ve been doing New Year’s Resolutions…and doing them damn better.

    So on January 1, instead of the old chestnut of “I’m finally going to lose those 10 pounds” (again) here’s what to do instead.

    5 Ways to Avoid Resolution Failure

    1) Swap outcome for process.

    Nobody wants to hear this. Take the “I want to lose ___ pounds” weight loss goal and forget about it.

    “But Steph,” you’re protesting right now, “everyone keeps telling me goals are the holy grail.”

    Goals matter to some extent. But the way you’ve been taught to set them is all backwards.

    When you set the goal of losing 25 pounds, that’s the outcome you desire. You inevitably expect that reaching this goal will be fast and linear (the scale only ever going down). But it’s not. Logically you know this.

    And when the scale weight doesn’t go down quick enough or – heaven forbid – it stalls or climbs, your self-worth is shattered into a thousand tiny pieces. (I know because I played this game of voluntary torture with myself for years.)

    Avoid resolution failure by swapping outcome (25 pound weight loss) for process, what you commit to doing every day to get yourself there. This could be putting something green on your plate today, getting to bed before 10 pm, or putting on your sneakers and walking around the block.

    It’s not the outcome that gets you there, it’s your commitment to the process.

    (And for the record, when I started paleo in 2010, the biggest process goal I stuck to was weekly meal planning.

    Click here learn more about Real Plans, the most powerful meal planning program on the planet!)

    Stop! Before you make any resolutions in 2018, get these 5 tips for avoiding resolution failure. Make changes really stick and keep motivation going. See how! | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    2) Take the 30,000 foot view.

    Don’t fall into the trap of overanalyzing everything that you’re putting in your mouth, doing or not doing to your body. Yes, life is lived in the day-to-day, but it’s helpful to have a big picture birds eye view of the situation, too.

    The most flexible, resilient people I know are able to vacillate between living in the moment and recognizing that one moment is just that. Avoiding resolution failure means being able to MOVE ON if you make an “off-plan” choice.

    Let’s say that you ignore #1 above and set a goal to lose 25 pounds. Um, what happens if and when you reach the goal? You either have to maintain it or move the goalposts.

    Sorry, Charlie, but that means continuing to make good choices a majority of the time for the rest of your life.

    I said this to someone once, and their response was, “Wow, that’s depressing.”

    I disagree.

    When you take the 30,000 foot view, you give yourself space to make mistakes. It takes the pressure off making perfect decisions every single day and helps you realize that you’re in this lifelong relationship with your body. What you do over the long run matters most.

    Stop! Before you make any resolutions in 2018, get these 5 tips for avoiding resolution failure. Make changes really stick and keep motivation going. See how! | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    3) Get clear about why.

    The third way to avoid resolution failure – though arguably the most important – is to get crystal clear about why you’re making it.

    You’d think that making a New Year’s Resolution would be synonymous with understanding why it matters to you…

    …but time and time again, most people I ask can’t answer the question, “Why are you doing this?”

    And among the ones that can, a simple majority cite reasons that boil down to fear: I hate my body, my thighs are gross (that was mine), he’ll leave me if I don’t do this, they’re judging me, etc.

    People assume that negative motivators, things that are really painful, will help them follow through on their resolutions…because humans are wired to avoid pain and seek pleasure.

    This goes far beyond the carrot or stick approach, the old reward versus punishment debate. (Both are poor at spurring long-term motivation, by the way.) Instead, the most motivated people are the ones who are intrinsically motivated and clearly aligned to a purpose outside themselves.

    If you want to dive into purpose even deeper, get Simon Sinek’s book, Find Your Why.

    Purpose is essential for avoiding resolution failure.

    4) Know your Tendency.

    Understanding how you respond to internal and external expectations is a game-changer. In fact, this is one of the first things I have my clients figure out when we start working together.

    The Four Tendencies is a framework by Gretchen Rubin, and it’s extremely illuminating when it comes to avoiding resolution failure and figuring out how you (and others) function regarding expectations.

    Click here to take the Four Tendencies quiz (free).

    Here’s an example:

    Every January, you promise yourself that you’ll go to the gym 3 times a week. And by the end of the month, you peter out and barely go once. Your friend Jen, on the other hand, dutifully goes 3 times a week no problem. Secretly, you envy Jen and wonder why she’s such a good, worthy, disciplined person.

    But then you take the quiz and figure out that you’re an Obliger. (It’s the most common tendency.)

    Suddenly it all makes sense.

    You go to a big box gym where nobody knows or talks to you. You try to work out alone. But you’re wired to follow through on external expectations. So you make plans to work out with Jen next week. Being accountable to Jen – your new workout buddy – makes all the difference, and going three times a week becomes something you look forward to.

    I’m not saying that knowing your tendency will result in unicorns and rainbows. But in my experience, it’s pretty illuminating and helps you make small shifts in your choices that add up big.

    (And if you’re wondering, I’m an Upholder.)

    Stop! Before you make any resolutions in 2018, get these 5 tips for avoiding resolution failure. Make changes really stick and keep motivation going. See how! | StupidEasyPaleo.com

    5) Choose a theme instead.

    Okay, you might think that the trend of choosing a theme for the upcoming year is totally passé, but hear me out.

    A thoughtfully chosen theme can help you avoid resolution failure.

    Now, there are definitely some trends that should die forever – planking, anyone? – but for me, the yearly theme will live on. It’s way less rigid than a resolution and tends to be far more positive and hopeful because it sets an intention.

    And in a way, themes are like everything I’ve talked about so far rolled into one.

    There’s no hard and fast rule, but I’d recommend a word or phrase that guides you through making tough choices.

    In 2016, mine was “Connect”…a reminder to put myself out there more and build relationships despite my introverted nature. For 2017, I chose “Dare” to help me get out of my comfort zone more often. And for 2018, my theme is “Grace and Space”…a reminder to slow down often and be more present.

    A theme isn’t all-or-nothing thing like resolutions tend to be…it’s not a pass / fail test.

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    In conclusion, New Year’s Resolutions as we tend to make them are pretty useless…

    …but if you’re set on making some this year, I hope these tips will help you craft better, more useful commitments to yourself.

    For best results, remember to:

    • Focus on the process, not the outcome.
    • Zoom out and take the big picture view from time to time.
    • Get clear about why you’re making change.
    • Figure out how you respond to internal and external expectations.
    • Set a positive intention instead of a do-or-die promise.

    So tell me, what’s your 2018 theme? Let me know in the comments!

    Pin this post for later!

    Stop! Before you make any resolutions in 2018, get these 5 tips for avoiding resolution failure. Make changes really stick and keep motivation going. See how! | StupidEasyPaleo.com

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    37 thoughts on “5 Ways to Avoid Resolution Failure in 2018

    1. I love the idea of setting an intention with a theme. My 2018 theme is “slow down”

      I’m all about the hustle. I thrive on my to-do list and having people rely on me to get the job done. Slowing down is SO hard for me. I hope by making it a daily practice, it will deepen my relationships, and help me be a better listener! I talk TOO much!

      Thank you for this. Ive got a long list of goals for 2018, and everything you shared is just what I needed to hear to remind myself of WHY I want the changes in my life.

      1. Love that theme of “slow down”…so important to realize that the expectations we put on ourselves are often self-created and for lack of a better way of saying it, we often amplify the importance in our minds. Curious what your Tendency is…did you take the quiz?

    2. Getting strong inside and out is my theme. 2017 was challenging for me with tons of stress and worrying about everyone but myself. So my commitment to myself is to “do me” this year.

    3. Less is more. Taking an honest inventory of not just my things in my house that clutter my life but also removing the “clutter” from my diet (definitely had a rough time lately…M&M’s for breakfast!!) and social media. Want to focus on happiness and what truly brings me joy. #minimalism

      1. Hey Steph…wow yes I love that intention. Removing the physical and emotional clutter can pay off huge. Have you ever read Essentialism by Greg McKeown? Highly recommend.

    4. I love the idea of a theme for the year. For 2018 mine will be keep connecting. I have recently moved across the country and live alone (except for my dog). Also an introvert, I tend to stay home and end up lonely. I have made new connections, but need to pursue more contact with them.

      Your positive attitude helps keep me motivated–thanks for that. The paleo diet has helped me lose weight (more to go but not worrying about it) and feel better. I’m focusing on better health and living and not just the weight.

      1. Thanks so much for sharing yours, Nora! I definitely know the feeling of a cross-country move as an introvert. It can be so challenging but very rewarding. You’ve got this!

    5. I love this idea of a theme. I’ve chosen “wellness” as my theme. To insure that my thinking is geared towards making decisions that will promote my personal physical, mental, occupational, spiritual and social well-being. The last few years I have made inroads, but haven’t had the right intentions and am far from where I would like to be.

      My tendency was Questioner… but I’m not sure I fully agree. I feel that unless I share my goals I’m not always great at keeping them. I definitely work better when I am accountable. 🙂

      1. Hey Nicole…thanks so much for sharing what wellness means to you. There’s definitely Questioners who lean toward Upholder…and that can mean that you crave external accountability. Gretchen’s book is really great at exploring these edges and how it’s common to have blends of tendencies. Happy new year!

    6. I have been picking a theme every year for a few years. This year I actually picked the theme Connection. (Interesting to see you had Connect one year). To me this means so many things. Connection with friends and family, connection in networking for my career, and connection for my health and finances. Connection of what I eat dictates what my mood will be like and how I feel. Connection of if I spend money on this or that how does it affect my saving for a home.
      I am also tracking processes not outcome by starting a simple bullet journal and some tracking pages. Some structure helps me stay accountable and I love the visual of it.
      Lastly I took Gretchen’s tendency quiz back in March and I looked back, I was a Questioner. I have to go back and look what that exactly means.
      Thanks for great tips Steph. It is always a pleasure reading your blog.

      1. Hi Wendy! Thank you for sharing your reflections on connection and what it means to you in your life. Questioners are a unique bunch…I think you’d get a kick out of learning more about that tendency. Happy new year!

    7. My theme for 2018 – “One thing at a time”. I read something recently that said “if you’re in a conversation with someone, be in the conversation with them”. Yes, yes! Too many times I really don’t connect because I’m trying to do six things at once. Since my “why” is because I want to have meaningful relationships, not actually giving someone my attention is sabotaging myself.

      1. Thank you for sharing that, Audra. It’s so true, isn’t it? It’s increasingly easier to only catch part of the conversation because our minds wander elsewhere. Wishing you a very happy new year!

    8. My phrase for 2018 is “less pain, more movement”. I’ve had fibro and arthritis for years and am used to daily pain, but recently injured myself during a fall and felt helpless due to pain. Realized it is up to me to get back to walking, hiking, dancing by using physical therapy exercises faithfully and losing at least 25 lbs. Have a buddy and support group.
      At my age (70 next birthday), now’s the time. Just taking things a day at a time.

      1. Thanks for sharing your phrase, Linda. I’m wishing you lots of healing and positive vibes. Here’s to a pain-free 2018!

    9. My theme for 2018 is nurturing. I’ve spent so many years trying to hate the weight off, so I’m turning it around this year and trying to love it off with compassion and awareness.

      I’m a questioner and the part about exhausting yourself and others with questions really resonated. Thanks for the head’s up on the quiz and tendencies. New info is always appreciated. Happy New Year!

      1. Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and theme, Heather. Oh my gosh, that phrase “hate the weight off” sums up the experience for so many people (including me in the past). I’m glad you found the quiz helpful. Happy 2018!

    10. My theme for 2018 is Inspire. I would like to be inspired as well as inspire others. Thank you for this great list of ways to strengthen any intention. A group of friends and I are going to share our intentions this year and we are using your tips as a guide. Keep up the valuable posts!

      1. Such a wonderful theme, Rose, and I’m thrilled that your friends are getting involved, too!! Cheers and happy new year!

    11. I just discovered that I’m a Questioner, not surprised, I do have a tendency to make outside expectations inner expectations after I’ve questioned and researched the expectation.

      My theme for 2018 is “Challenge yourself” because I love my comfort zone, it’s so cozy but, I need to be able to get outside of it. I workout, cook, talk to people… oh so many things in that little zone.

    12. This was great.
      I picked “growth” as my theme for 2018.
      I started Crossfit last year, did a Whole30 and went mostly Paleo; I lost almost 20 pounds and started to feel really great in the process!
      Then I got pregnant this fall and, while I’m so excited to be a mom again (I have a 5 year old), it has been so hard to see my body change and, well, grow. Logically I can say that I know I’ll get bigger and rounder and I need to for the health of my wee babe, and I’ve continued to do Crossfit so that I’m still active, but it breaks my heart to see all of my hard work from the summer “undone” in a way. Typing this out makes me realize how selfish I sound!
      So, I want to try to off-set that by growing in other ways. I’m trying to grow my meal-prep habits so that I have healthier food more readily available. I want to grow spiritually and intellectually, and in my ability to love and care for my family.
      As a teacher I’m all about the growth-mindset; there are many things I can’t do…yet. 🙂

      1. Hi Danielle…thanks so much for your candor and for adding your thoughts. The thing that came to mind when I read your words is to remember that life is fluid. And you’re at a different spot in your journey but that doesn’t mean you can’t make change with your body again after baby comes. Remember that the outcome can be so fleeting…but it’s the experience of the process that will always remain within you. Happy new year!

      2. I felt the same way when pregnant with my second (kids 4+ years apart) but my body bounced back really quickly when I was ready to work on it (about 5-6 months postpartum.) It was my last time being pregnant so I did try and savor every moment, knowing my “fit body” would be there again when I wanted it. Trust in the process and enjoy growing your little human- congrats!! A great theme too- growth in so many ways!

    13. Hi Steph,
      My theme is Warrior, I will stand and fight through the difficulties (challenges) of transformation. I will run my race strong and complete my task with humble dignity. There’s more but that’s the nutshell. I’m making a vision board, I’ll post a pix in HTK page when it’s complete!
      Thanks for the coaching coach!

    14. Hi Steph
      I loved this post and have given a lot of thought about my theme for 2018 – it is Completion. I am a procrastinator and my tendency test found me an Obliger! My goal is to focus more on finishing without getting sidetracked and I’m sure thinking “completion, completion, completion” will eventually sink in! I love patchwork and quilting, and also do a little cross stitch and embroidery so always have a few projects on the go, some that are easily transportable and others that I need my studio space for. However, I have a huge number of UFO’s (unfinished objects) so this will be #1 goal. Day to day there will also plenty of chances to apply “completion” too – drying the dishes AND putting them away – folding the washing AND doing the ironing AND putting it ALL away! Sounds easy enough eh?

      1. Wow Jennie, thank you so much for sharing your theme and your tendency. It would be interesting to see what might happen if you enlisted the help of an accountability buddy!

        Completion is brilliant…I think it helps combat the whole need to have things perfect which prevents us, in many ways, from starting. You’re awesome! Here’s to far fewer UFO’s in 2018!

    15. Loved reading this post, Steph — it was really helpful! I also choose a phrase/theme each year and I find it to be really helpful in keeping me on track towards my goals… My theme phrase for this year, 2018, is “Lean In”… meaning: doing less multi-tasking and leaning in hard to focus 100% of my mental, emotional and physical energy into whatever one thing I’m working on in the moment. Whether it’s building my business or working on lowering my marathon time, “leaning in” requires that I be brave enough to get really close and intimate with whatever it is I’m pursuing at the moment.

      1. This is so perfect –> “leaning in” requires that I be brave enough to get really close and intimate with whatever it is I’m pursuing at the moment.”

        Thank you for sharing your wise words with all of us, Liz <3

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