New Year’s resolutions suck. Unleash the power of practical steps.
Yep, I think New Year’s Resolutions stink.
If you want to make a real, meaningful change in your life, New Year’s Resolutions are rarely your friend.
(In fact, NYRs often make us worse at changing.)
Hear me out. I might just revolutionize your approach to making 2024 “your best year yet.”
Dream big, stay grounded
Let me introduce myself. I’m Krista Scott-Dixon, SIMPLE’s Product Director — and now, our Chief (Anti-New Year’s) Resolution Officer, too!
Having been a coach since kids were wearing MC Hammer pants — and as a specialist in the psychology and application of behavior change — I’m pretty good at helping regular people crush their health goals without burning out or freaking out. Goal setting done right is positive, fun, and leads to real progress. So I’m here to teach you how to dream — and achieve — BIG while staying grounded in realistic, sustainable, doable steps.
I know you want to change some stuff in your life. I get it. I’ve been there, stuck at the bottom of the hill, thinking … I have to be different. Things have to be different.
But overhauling everything all at once isn’t the answer. The answer is baby steps — small, simple actions that you can do, over and over and over again.
Before we go any deeper, let’s back up a step.
The magical thinking of January 1st
Think back to January 1st. You wake up. (Maybe with some eggnog-related regret.) And now … it’s time. TIME TO CHANGE EVERYTHING AND BE ENTIRELY DIFFERENT AND BETTER THAN YOU HAVE EVER BEEN BEFORE.
We suddenly imagine ourselves doing things we’ve never been able to do. We’re now superhuman, with magical powers to achieve all kinds of things that have previously eluded us.
You want to get fit … so you New Years Resolve to work out EVERY DAY. On Jan 1st, you drag yourself out of bed at 5:30 AM to hit the gym. On Jan 2nd, you’re at boot camp in the pouring rain. On Jan 3rd, you’re sweating (or it might be tears, who knows) through a spin class.
You want to lose weight … so you New Years Resolve to eat “clean.” On Jan 1st, you’re at the grocery store, bright-eyed and chipper, filling your cart with green leafy things. On Jan 2nd, you’re trying to muscle a knife into a butternut squash that WILL NOT YIELD. On Jan 3rd, you’re grimacing through a meal of foods you’ve never heard of … but you know are good for you.
You want to get healthy … so you New Years Resolve to never, ever, EVER touch another drop of alcohol. On Jan 1st, you’re swirling your sparkling water in a wine glass to detect its “nose.” On Jan 2nd, you’re making a cocktail out of lime wedges, lemonade, and … grenadine? (It’s a work in progress.) On Jan 3rd, you’re loudly declaring your love for non-alcoholic cider but not really meaning it and hoping no one notices (including yourself).
You get the idea. At New Years, the problem isn’t the goals we set. The problem is the actions we resolve to take.
We go to extremes, but extreme actions like these are SO big that they chew up all your energy and enthusiasm within days. By the time February rolls around, you’re back where you started: feeling defeated, lethargic, and aggravated that — YET AGAIN — you couldn’t do this simple thing of “getting in shape.”
Is there a better way? OF COURSE THERE IS. And SIMPLE appointed me to show you what it is.
Become an unstoppable, goal-crushing human
At SIMPLE, we’re committed to helping you create real, lasting change. For that, you need three things:
Let’s look at these in a little more depth.
1. A hopeful future that inspires you
Think of a health goal that’s been in your mental “sausage grinder” for a while. Maybe you want to:
- bring your blood pressure down
- fit back into your favorite jeans
- get swole
- stop face-planting cupcakes after a stressful day
You want this goal. It feels vital and compelling. You can feel it in your gut, pushing you to do something.
This is where a lot of people get stuck (because where do you start?) and scared (because you failed before, so what’s going to be different this time?). It feels kinda … impossible.
2. A doable action plan
This is where my SIMPLE secret sauce comes into play. To bust through this stuck, scared place, you need smart, sane actions that get you to your big, beautiful goal. Actions that are:
- just the right amount of stretch
Of course, these are just examples. Choose actions that connect to your goal that are — and this is the crucial part — realistic and doable in the context of your messy, rich, complex life.
Results come from consistent action — i.e., doing something over and over again. In part, your health reflects the actions you do most often.
Let’s go back to our New Year’s Resolutions from earlier. How easy is it to be consistent with these actions?
- You New Years Resolved to work out EVERY DAY.
But getting out of bed at 5 AM got old fast. You now roll your eyes at that perky coach at spin class, and even the smell of fresh gym towels makes you want to barf.
- You New Years Resolved to eat “clean.”
But overhauling your diet messed with your gut (all that extra fiber, oof) and was so hard to sustain that your old eating habits came back with a vengeance. Now you feel indigestion and shame.
- You New Years Resolved to NEVER, EVER, EVER touch another drop of alcohol.
But you missed being able to catch up with your friends over a glass of wine. Your life feels less rich without the option to share a whiskey with your partner in front of the fire. So you drifted back … and now drink more than before.
Extreme actions like these kill any chance of consistency — and therefore your chance of accomplishing your goals — stone-dead.
Resist the New Year’s hype to go big or go home
Research shows that striving for excellence and mastery IS a good thing — but only if you allow yourself time, space, and grace to grow.
So, yes, dream big. I’m here for it. But STOP supersizing your actions and biting off more than you can chew.
Don’t expect yourself to come out of the holiday cocoon as a fully-fledged New Years butterfly who ALREADY has all the skills to meal prep like a pro chef, exercise like an Olympic athlete, and rock all aspects of health like it’s your job.
All that pressure to be perfect from the get-go won’t help you learn, grow, change, or improve.
Make space for curiosity, acceptance, compassion, and patience. Leave room for fun, self-kindness, and screw ups along the way. And enjoy the sloppy, messy, mistake-rich learning that’s always part of success and change.
Instead of following the New Year’s hype to go big or go home, break your big goals into teeny, tiny, baby steps. Think: two minutes. Five minutes. Yeah, that small. Then try to do that two- or five-minute action as often as you can. I promise that, if you do that, there’ll be no stopping you.
Anytime you need a top up of our signature “small changes = big wins” advice, hop into the SIMPLE app. Whether in our expert articles, the daily actions we recommend, or through tools like our Nutrition Scores, you’ll find the wisdom you need to reach your goals.
And for those in-the-moment needs and motivational pep talks — chat with Avo, SIMPLE’s avocado-shaped wellness assistant. Avo’s a dab hand at building practical battle plans for big goals!