“New year, new me,” Right? I mean, for me this is actually true, as on 12/31 I received all of my new cards and information with my new last name on it. Regardless, I wanted to share 10 mistakes to avoid in the new year, and yes, I am speaking from experience.
Let’s jump right in:
- Thinking you can have it all, because you can’t: If you have just spent an entire year in habits that you are unhappy with, you are not going to immediately pick up 10 new habits and succeed at them. Instead, pick 1 thing to focus on each day, week, or month depending on how challenging that thing is for you. Show yourself consistency in your progress and success and then add in another goal or challenge for yourself. When you master these one by one, you’ll end up having mastered 5-10 of them by the end of the year, rather than starting off strong and dropping all of them before January is over.
- Making your goals unrealistic: THIS. We all fall victim right? We don’t have to. Don’t tell yourself “I’m going to lose 30 lbs this year,” or “I’m going to pay off $30,000 in debt.” You won’t. Looking at tasks that big are like looking at an entire master’s course syllabus instead of taking the assignments week by week. It’s overwhelming. Don’t set an unrealistic expectation. Instead, tell yourself “I’m going to focus on 3 lbs at a time. Right now, my goal is just to lose hose first 3 lbs.”
- Don’t set a time frame: Sometimes we cannot predict the appropriate time frame to successfully achieve our goals. Life happens and the unpredictable occurs and it throws us off track. So don’t focus on
the time because you will likely set yourself up for failure. Instead of saying “I will read 3 books in 1 month,” tell yourself “I will read three books start to finish. I’m going to first focus on this one book and go from there.”
- Thinking that success comes all at once: It takes pennies to make dollars and dollars to make $20. Remember that. You can’t just hop on the scale one week into your program and think that you should be 20 lbs lighter. Remember that you’re focusing on the small victories, so celebrate even .5 lbs gone!
- Measuring your success with only one tool: This is a huge one for me. I have reached many of my goals by tracking them in more than one way. For example, when I lost my first 40 lbs, I took pictures, measurements, and stepped in the scale one time per week. Three different systems of measurement would show me if there was progress. Eventually I added in days logged into my food tracker and BMI to the measurement tools. When we measure in more than one way, we can’t miss the success. Another example is with reading: track the pages read, the chapters finished, the total amount of time you read that day and week, and the number of books completed. You will feel much more accomplished when you see progress on at least one method of measurement, versus seeing minimal progress because you are only focusing on one measurement all together.
- Letting setbacks control you: Remember, your success isn’t defined by one setback. You’re going to have a backyard barbecue and indulge in chips, dips, and brownies. I don’t know one person that has the will power to say no to their favorite things for 365 continuous days. So realize that there will be bumps in the road, but that it doesn’t trump all of the hard work you have put in. If you have been saving, saving, saving, and then oneday you put $200 on your credit card, you will likely pay that off in a few weeks or a month. But if you keep adding to the credit card, you’ll be back where you started. Notice the choice you made and get back on track before you do derail!
- Letting others influence you: Your goal was to lose 20 lbs but now your neighbor, let’s call her Trish, has a goal to lose 30. Remember that everyone’s goals are different. Stop entering into that competitive mindset. We all live with different circumstances and variables that affect our goals and progress towards them. Continue to do what makes sense for YOU not for others around you.
- Becoming over obsessed with your goal: Don’t become so obsessed with your goals that it takes away from who you are or the people that you love surrounding yourself with. I’ve made this mistake before. In the beginning of my macro tracking days, I avoided all social interactions that included food. Eventually I felt so alone that I entered into a bout of depression. I thrive off of social interactions, so this really effected me. I learned that I can create a win-win situation. I could prepare food and bring it with or check the m
enu before going out and plan ahead while still seeing the people I love and staying in track towards my goals.
- Mistaking a season for failure: You will have good seasons and bad seasons. Think of weight loss: when you go from eating junk food to eating clean and working out, the first 5-10 or even 15-20 for some people falls off easily. After that, you face a bigger challenge. Be aware that you may have faster progress in the beginning as you make these big changes and your motivation is high, but that there may be flat trends in your progress along the way. Preparing for those “off” seasons ahead of time will help you avoid the “I’m a failure screw these goals,” mindset.
- Don’t forget to celebrate: I used to look at 5 lbs gone and think “great into the next 5 I have so far to go.” Instead, we should take the time to celebrate our victories, big and small. Even if that’s a 5 minute victory dance in your bathroom before work, DO IT! Aiming to successfully achieve your goals can cause unwanted stress, so don’t forget to breathe, laugh, and clap for yourself between each milestone!
These aren’t rules for your new year, just suggestions that have helped me become more successful in achieving my goals. There may also be some underlying applied behavior analysis strategies in there, well, because yo girl is a bit of a nerd! However, that just makes these tips all the more effective. Let me know which tips work for YOU and which habits you are planning to kick in the comments below!