Avoid these 3 pitfalls to nail your New Year’s resolution

Resolution photo

This is the year that we make our resolutions stick!

Only have a minute? Here’s the post in a nutshell:

  • Pitfall #1: We put ourselves behind the 8-ball by overindulging and/or abandoning our health and fitness routine during the holiday season. Enjoy the season, but keep your goal in mind and lay the groundwork for success.
  • Pitfall #2: We set unsustainable or overly ambitious goals. Big goals are awesome, but we achieve them by making sustainable changes.
  • Pitfall #3: We’re too hard on ourselves and give up too easily. If you fall off the wagon, it’s ok, just hop back on and keep moving forward.

                     ~Life’s not a game of perfect, it’s a game of progress~


We’re moving into the holiday season and 2015 is coming to a close. That means crisp air, family gatherings, and great meals. For many of us, it can also mean lots of shopping, stress, and emails saying, “let’s re-connect on this after the first of the year”. For most of us, it also means it is time to start thinking about a New Year’s Resolution.

I’ve never been a huge fan of New Year’s resolutions because it always seemed to me that we could just start today, rather than waiting for January 1st. However, I’ve decided to can that soapbox tangent (along with my one about “after the first of the year” emails) for another venue. The fact is, the large majority of us will make a resolution, likely focused on health and fitness, and we’d really like to help you make it a successful one.

You might be thinking, “It’s not even Thanksgiving. Isn’t it a little early to start worrying about New Year’s resolutions?” Which brings me to:

Pitfall #1 – We let ourselves go during the holiday season

We’ve all been there. Work is crazy. Family is coming into town. Co-workers are bringing tons of delicious cookies and candy to the office. It’s certainly hard to stay committed to a consistent and healthy routine during the holiday season. Good thing we’re going to clean it all up after New Year’s, right? Unfortunately, it rarely works out that way. By overindulging or completely abandoning our health and fitness routines, we dig ourselves into a hole before we even start. Instead of setting the conditions for success, we’ve put ourselves behind the 8-ball.

How to avoid it:

  • Recognize that the holiday season is going to present some challenges, and make peace with it. It is fine to have a big Thanksgiving meal and the occasional (or regular) Christmas cookie. Give yourself some grace and enjoy the season. Trying to be too strict is not a good strategy. You don’t need to be perfect, but let’s try to keep it on the rails. Do your best, even if it isn’t perfect.
  • Think about your resolution/goal now, and set the conditions for success. Finish the year strong and put yourself in a position to accomplish your goal when the calendar turns. As an added bonus, eating well and exercising will help to reduce some of that holiday stress.


Pitfall #2 – We make unsustainable resolutions

I’ve learned this one from (numerous) personal experiences. If you’re anything like me, you see the New Year as a world of possibilities and you’re ready to attack it. We’re going to have a super-clean diet, run 40 miles a week, do yoga every morning, add 100 pounds to our deadlift, and write a novel…all while being an awesome dad, a loving husband, a caring friend, and an asset to the community. Sound familiar? Here’s the thing, BIG goals are wonderful and they should be nurtured. However, BIG goals are best achieved by consistently reaching a series of sustainable goals.

How to avoid it:

  • Make an honest assessment of where you’re at and what you’re likely to stick with. If you’re currently working out once a week, or not at all, it probably makes sense to set a goal of 3 days per week. One of my favorite goals is to “get out and move” everyday. You’d be surprised how often that walk around the block turns into a few miles or that easy 2-mile jog turns into a brisk 4-mile run.
  • Don’t put a finish line on your resolution. This is a big one. Here’s an example of what I’d consider a bad resolution: “lose 20 pounds by April 1st”. This kind of goal presents a couple of issues, and this might seem a bit counterintuitive. First, we don’t know what happens after April 1st. The real goal is not to be 20 pounds lighter in April, it is to STILL be 20 pounds lighter in 2 years! Second, the resolution isn’t based in behavior. I know that results matter, but you’ll likely realize better results if you simply focus on the behaviors (moving more, eating better, etc.) as opposed to just the result.


Pitfall #3 – We are too hard on ourselves and we give up too easily

Let’s say you heeded the first two warnings. You made it through the holidays in good shape, you set sustainable/reasonable goals for the New Year, and now you’re ready to make it happen. Everything is going really well until…BOOM. The national sales meeting is in Orlando and it is a weeklong bonanza of coffee, catering, cocktails, and more coffee. You’re officially off the wagon. Everything you’ve done up to this point is lost, and your New Year’s resolution is toast, right? Better luck next year? Wrong.

How to avoid it:

  • Think about golf. Seriously, golf provides a great analogy for achieving our health and fitness goals. Even if you don’t play, this should make sense. When we hit our tee-shot into the woods, what should we do? Lament the fact that we always slice the driver, and try to pull off a miracle shot through the trees, of course. No, the best play is to punch it back out into the fairway, take our lumps and continue playing from a good position. You’re going to hit a few into woods during your journey. We all do. Relax, minimize the damage, and do better tomorrow.
  • Confess your sins and repent. Gotcha. But seriously, setting up an accountability mechanism can be really helpful if you do it right. “Punishing” yourself (just a little) is a good way to get past the obligatory guilt and move on. Try this: whenever you stumble, commit to paying yourself 40 pushups. This will allow you to quickly get back in gear and re-focus on your goal, rather than your transgression. You definitely should NOT torture yourself with hours of cardio or overdo it. Just take the slap on the wrist and move forward.


Managing your health and fitness goals is tough during the holidays, and can be even tougher once the realities of the New Year set in. Life’s not a game of perfect, it’s a game of progress. Avoid these three pitfalls, and you’ll do just fine.

We’d love to hear about your New Year’s resolutions…and if you’d like a little help getting started, we’ve built a Resolution Success Template to make sure you avoid the three pitfalls and achieve your goals.  Just send us an email at FitSmithsInfo@gmail.com and we’ll send it right over!

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