3 Tips to Make Lasting Change This Year

3 Tips to Make Lasting Change This Year

As the calendar flips to a new year, I hope you’re ready to get bombarded with the familiar chorus of "New Year, New You." Social media feeds will overflow with declarations of radical life overhauls, and everyone seems eager to share their ambitious resolutions.

But at Kaged, we prefer to ground our aspirations in reality, backed by hard data. And the truth? The traditional approach to New Year's resolutions paints a rather bleak picture of success.

A 2023 Forbes poll found that only 8% of people stuck to their goal for even a month. Among those surveyed, fitness was the the #1 cited goal for the New Year.

Why do so many people fail? The answers aren’t so obvious.

Motivation Has Shown No Correlation to Success

One of the common explanations for failing to reach New Year’s goals is, simply, a lack of effort and motivation. Of course, to reach any goal you need to work hard, but the data make it clear that motivation isn’t enough.

In a 2021 study on New Year Resolutions, they asked participants to report flexibility and tenacity toward their resolutions before beginning. In the end neither showed any correlation with success.

This tells a story that momentary excitement and motivation won’t necessarily help you stick to a resolution.

Where does this leave us? In our view, it shows that most New Year’s resolutions will fail without a focus on how to make the changes sustainable. In simple words, the difference maker is how to stay consistent.

That begins by setting the right goals, building the right plan, and understanding on a fundamental level that “New Year, New You” is total bullshit.

On January 1, you will be the same you. Each day is a chance to evolve into a better version of you, but it’s still you.

This year, don’t just make resolutions in fleets of motivation. We want to cultivate a mindset of consistent, sustainable change. 

The Problem with Traditional Resolutions

As we embark on a new year, filled with optimism and aspirations, it's crucial to understand why so many New Year's resolutions are doomed to fail. This understanding is key to breaking the cycle and setting ourselves up for success.

Unrealistic Goals

One of the primary reasons for the failure of traditional resolutions is the tendency to set unrealistic goals. In the wave of New Year enthusiasm, it's easy to aim for drastic changes without considering the practicality or the steps required to achieve them. These goals often lack specificity and are more about grand gestures than achievable targets. For instance, resolving to "work out every day" without a fitness base or "completely overhaul your diet overnight" are recipes for burnout and disappointment.

Reliance on Fleeting Motivation

New Year's resolutions are often fueled by a temporary surge of motivation. This initial burst of energy is exhilarating but unsustainable. Motivation is an emotion, and like all emotions, it ebbs and flows. When the excitement wanes, and it will, so does the commitment to the resolution.

Lack of Planning

Many resolutions fail because they are wishes rather than well-thought-out plans. Without a clear roadmap or a set of actionable steps, even the most earnest resolutions can quickly become overwhelming or directionless. It's one thing to resolve to "get in shape," but without a specific plan that includes measurable milestones, it becomes easy to lose sight of the goal.

This is why, if you are going to set a fitness resolution, you’ll want to make sure you have a proven plan to follow, like Mike Hildebrant’s 8-Week Push-Pull Program.

The 'All or Nothing' Mindset

Perhaps the most insidious aspect of traditional resolutions is the 'all or nothing' mindset. When faced with the inevitable slip-ups or challenges, this mindset often leads to complete abandonment of the resolution. It's a cycle of extreme restriction followed by inevitable failure, leading to guilt and self-criticism, which further demotivates and derails progress.

Understanding Consistency: The Key to Lasting Change

Unlike the excitement of New Year's resolutions, consistency is about integrating small, manageable actions into your daily life, leading to profound and lasting transformations.

The Power of Consistent Actions: Consistency in fitness and wellness means regularly engaging in activities that contribute to your health goals, whether it's a daily walk, a balanced meal, or a mindfulness practice. It's not about drastic overhauls or extreme measures; it's about making health a regular part of your routine. This approach allows your body and mind to adapt gradually, making it more likely that these changes will stick.

The Science of Habit Formation: The concept of consistency is deeply rooted in the science of habit formation. Habits get formed through the repetition of actions, which creates neural pathways in the brain. Each time you repeat an action, these pathways become stronger, making the behavior more automatic. This is why consistency is key – the more you engage in a healthy behavior, the more ingrained it becomes in your daily life.

Small Wins and Their Cumulative Effect: The beauty of consistency lies in the power of small wins. Each time you choose a healthy meal, complete a workout, or take time for mental wellness, you're not just making a single positive choice; you're building momentum. These small wins may seem insignificant in isolation, but their cumulative effect over time is monumental. They create a positive feedback loop, where each small success fuels the next, leading to significant, sustainable change.

By understanding and embracing the principles of consistency, habit formation, and the cumulative power of small wins, we can shift away from the unsustainable 'all or nothing' approach of traditional resolutions. Instead, we can focus on building a lifestyle that naturally incorporates fitness and wellness, leading to lasting change and a true evolution of self.

3 Keys for Building Fitness Habits

Achieving lasting change isn't just about understanding the importance of consistency; it's also about implementing strategies that make consistency achievable and sustainable. Here are some key strategies to help you build and maintain consistent habits:

1. Set Realistic Goals

You probably remember “SMART goals.” This stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. The more detailed, the better. As Tim Ferriss once said, “Life punishes the vague wish and rewards the specific ask.” For fitness goals, where people trip up the most is the “achievable” piece. You will not lose 20 pounds in a month, and if you do, you may be more likely to gain it back once you end the restrictive diet.

Performance-Based Goals: Shift your focus from outcome-based goals (like losing a certain amount of weight) to performance-based goals (like improving your running time or increasing the number of push-ups you can do).

This approach emphasizes personal growth and progress, making the journey more rewarding and less about just the end result. It also makes hitting your goals completely within your control. 

2. Create a Support System

Community and Accountability: Surround yourself with a supportive community, whether it's a fitness group, friends with similar goals, or an online community.

Having accountability partners or a coach can significantly increase your chances of sticking to your goals. They provide motivation, encouragement, and a sense of responsibility.

3. Taper into Your New Routines

Gradual Integration: Avoid diving headfirst into drastic changes. Instead, gradually integrate new habits into your lifestyle. For instance, start with shorter, more manageable workouts and progressively increase their intensity or duration. If you don’t train right now, start with a 2x/week program. If you can stick to that for 8 weeks, then you move up to 3-4 days per week.

Another common problem with sticking to fitness goals is, if you’re not used to working out, then one workout will make you sore. Perhaps too sore to workout the next day. It’s also okay to start with 20-30 minute workouts, ones that won’t make you too sore that training two days later feels like climbing a mountain.

Strategies to Stick to Your Training Goals

ZERO/ZERO January: While following a program is a great choice, we’ll off an alternative, something we call “zero/zero.” Your goal is have zero days in January with zero conscious movement. That is, even if you set aside time for a 5-minute walk, you’ve done more than zero.

It’s clear that even this can have positive impacts of your overall health, however we view this as a great stepping stone to more.

2&20: For beginners, another strategy is to follow the 2&20 goal. Aim to workout twice a week for at least 20 minutes. For those who have a solid training routine but struggle to stay consistent, aim for 4&40: four days a week of at least 40 minutes of training.

Building Your Resolution Mindset

We believe in always making changes to better ourselves. Whether that happens on January 1 or a random day in July is less important. The New Year is an opportunity for a fresh start, a great time to reflect, recharge, and think about what you want to change in your life. However, remember that there’s nothing magical about the New Year, and if you do build out your New Years Resolutions, remember that your success won’t be about January. It will be about building your habits, day in and day out, week after week, and month after month.

Then, come next year, you will look back in awe at what you accomplished.

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