Did you bite off more than you can chew with your New Year’s Resolution? It’s okay. You will make it; You can regain your balance; And we’re telling you how!
Help! My Resolve is Slipping!
It happens to the best of us! We get tired of the way things are and decide we’re going to make some big changes that we tackle all at once. We go strong for weeks, maybe even months, but suddenly we’re struggling to keep up. When this starts to happen, we need to step back and look at a few things. Why are we struggling, and what can we do about it?
Allow us to walk you through it. Plug in your own answers and see where the process takes you. Let’s begin:
Why am I Struggling?
- I’m always physically tired.
- I’ve started coming up with excuses.
- I’m starting to doubt that I can do it.
- The goal looks too big now.
- I don’t have any more time in my day for other things.
- Meal prepping is frustrating.
- The cravings have gotten really bad.
- I’m just going through the motions in my workouts, I may as well not be doing them.
- A fraction of my goal feels like enough. I already feel better than before.
- Too much change is overwhelming.
Do any of these sound like your reason? Perhaps you’ve identified with more than one. The important thing is that you identify what started to slow your forward momentum. Once you know the reason for your struggle, you can actually start to do something about it. If your reason isn’t up there, you can still move to the next step. Just bear in mind the specific reason why maintaining your resolution has become more difficult.
Break it Down
The next step is to take your reason and break it down even further. You want to start detailing all of its bits and pieces. This helps you take a broad concept and make it more specific; and we know it’s easier to work with more specific thoughts. Let’s do a couple examples together. Say your reason is #3, that you’re experiencing doubt and you’re no longer sure you can accomplish your goal. You would break it down like this:
I’m starting to doubt that I can do it because:
- My progress is slow or stalled
- I wanted to accomplish this in 2 months and now I’m running out of time
- I can’t maintain the number of days a week I planned to commit
Another example could be #6: Meal prepping is frustrating. Your breakdown might include items like:
- It takes too long
- I miss the simplicity of eating out
- I hate doing dishes
Once you have your items listed out, you can probably see some areas that you can work on. Let’s move on to step 3.
Take Informed Action
Now that you’re more informed about why you’re feeling like your resolution may not stick, you can take action. Action looks like this: make a logical statement about each of the items on your breakdown list. This is a technique employed in certain cognitive behavioral therapies. The idea is that you are recognizing a distorted thought process and giving yourself very reasonable explanations for why that thought doesn’t actually make sense. It helps break through the walls that you mentally set up for yourself. Let’s do an example together:
- My progress is slow or stalled
If you let your thoughts go from “my progress is slowing down” to “what if I never achieve my fitness goals?” or “what if this is all I’m capable of?” you’re slipping into a cognitive distortion called Catastrophizing. This is what happens when a person takes a single unpleasant event and imagines it will undeniably lead to the worst-case scenario.
This is what you do to reason your way through this kind of thought:
First, remember that our bodies are living and breathing, and it doesn’t matter if we actively help the process, they adapt to change. So, you started working out? Great! Your body struggled at first but now it’s really good at getting you through your 20 minutes on the treadmill. Your body thinks “that’s enough muscle building and cardiac improvement. I can do what’s being asked of me now.” So, your progress starts to slow.
As long as you keep your routine, your cardiac health and running muscles will stick around, but if you push yourself to sprint or to hang out on the treadmill for 30 minutes instead of 20, your body will need to adapt again to meet those demands. It’s natural; a slowdown in your progress doesn’t necessarily mean you’re doing anything wrong; it most likely means that your body has adapted to the change.
Now that you’ve thought logically about it, a slowdown in your resolution should no longer look like a critical failure. You can repeat that logic to yourself every time doubt starts to creep back in.
Rinse and Repeat
Go through this process for each and every one of the thoughts that holds you back from your goals. Even if it’s something that has a seemingly simple answer. For example, you might hate doing the dishes involved in meal prep. How can you reason your way through that one? Well, take a moment to look at the bigger picture. Is it worth giving up on your goal because of dishes? Is the trade-off worth it?
Alternatively, you can think of ways to make the chore of doing dishes more manageable. For example, you can make a habit of rinsing dishes as soon as they’ve been dirtied so you don’t have to spend more time scrubbing dried-on food. Mentally compare the difficulty of that task with your overall goal, and it probably looks quite doable.
The general thought is this: when we have trouble with our goals it often feels like we’re hitting obstacles we’ll never overcome. The trick is to recognize the flaws in our thought process and then reason our way out of it.
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Note: The author has a master’s degree in Social Work and is versed in various cognitive and behavioral therapies. Advice presented is based on an understanding of human behavior but should not replace the guidance of a licensed practitioner or that of one operating under licensed supervision.