Here we are, already more than halfway through February of the new year; can you believe it? Still, January (the quintessential month of the ever-so- talked-about resolutions) isn’t very far behind us. While January represents a time of change and new beginnings, maybe you noticed a bit of shift when it comes to the big “R” word last month, even just by scrolling through Instagram and Facebook stories. I certainly noticed LESS “New Year, New Me” proclamations: less friends and family talking about their hopes, goals, and dreams for 2022, and less resolutions setting overall (at least publicly).
Part of the problem with resolutions is that they focus on starting from scratch, or erasing habits completely, or they use negative reinforcement or some other misplaced motivator. An example of a misplaced motivator when it comes to my personal health goals would be of the financial sort. Both positive (gaining money) or negative (losing money) reinforcement do not motivate me, though financial motivators work well for many others.
At the end of the day, most resolutions are lofty, unattainable, and nonspecific. Starting from scratch or completely erasing habits or behaviors isn’t realistic. Resolutions rarely check all of the SMART goal boxes. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.
What the trends tell us
It should be no surprise that over the last couple years (ahem, and COVID) the number of Americans planning to make New Year’s resolutions has dropped consistently. In fact, according to a randomized national poll conducted in December 2021, only about 29% of Americans said they planned on making 2022 resolutions, down a whopping 43% compared to 12 months prior. This is a significant, yet expected difference as we are all preoccupied doing our best to work, survive, thrive, nurture, and be present in our current, abnormal, pandemic-laden environment. Not to mention, history tells us most resolutions fail by the time February or March roll around.
Be that as it may, 29% is still a large share of the population who had their eyes on the prize for 2022, most of them determined to – you guessed it – lose weight or improve health. Are you one of the 29% (still) banking on a “new you” this year? Are you still actively working toward your goals now that we’ve reached the “I’m giving up” month? Remember, if you find yourself giving up, you’re not alone. It’s not you that isn’t working; it’s the resolution. Simply reset by breaking your resolution into SMART goals, and you’ll have a much higher chance of reaching what you set out to achieve.
Is losing weight one of your goals?
If your goal is to lose weight, you may be tempted to bet on it, literally, especially if you are one of the people (unlike me) who are motivated by financial gains or losses. Programs and apps have been around for years claiming that you can actually turn a profit by losing the pounds you say you will, within the prescribed time. So, what’s the catch?
Is getting paid to lose weight a gimmick?
The apps work like this: you pay a fee, and if you lose the weight, you will earn at least your money back and sometimes more . . . but not much more, unless you bet very large amounts, or if you are only one of the few out of a large pool of people to meet your goal!
While financial incentives and penalties are popular motivators when it comes to changing behavior, I’m afraid that this time, the adage “if it’s too good to be true, it probably is” holds true. The bottom line is that companies like DietBet, HealthyWage, and many others exist today because most of their users fail to meet goals, which is in turn because most people fail to meet their goals, period – especially when it comes to weight loss. This scenario exemplifies why SMART goals are so important. SMART goals set you up for success; they are the safety net that catches you before you plummet into the pit of failure.
If betting on weight loss still sounds enticing, maybe financial motivators work well for you. You could always give it a fair shot by trying it out, after you flesh out your SMART goals. My advice is to start small though (don’t go betting, and potentially losing, thousands of dollars!). Some of the games can be entered with as little as $15; do your research and decide what’s right for you. Some users are drawn to the camaraderie, competition, and gaming aspect of these programs (non-financial motivators). Again, it boils down to what motivates you to change, and building SMART goals around that motivator.
Invest in the real you
It’s time to toss the heavy expectations you put upon your own shoulders with non-SMART resolutions. Instead, focus on being the original, authentic, one-and-only you, and examine areas you would like to improve upon in small, measurable steps. If you aim to lose weight, take a long hard look at why you are setting that goal. Are you trying to get your blood pressure in check? Reduce your cholesterol? Are you aiming to climb a mountain? Fit back into your pre-pandemic clothes (my personal motivator)? Find what motivates you and use that to your advantage, rather than pressurizing the situation by tossing money into a misplaced motivator and hoping to win a “new you” on the other side.
Puzzle pieces don’t try to change their shape, because they already fit perfectly into the big picture. They, like you, just have to find the best way to get into the right place. If you’re interested in starting a healthy lifestyle, let me help you with your puzzle! I’m just one click away, no betting required.
Ready to hit the ground running (or uh, walking)? Why not sign up for Let’s Walk Florida? Registration is open until we kick off this self-paced, virtual (and FREE for Duval residents) wellness program on February 28.
References and Further Reading:
Backus, F. (2021, December 31). Fewer Americans are making New Year’s resolutions this year. CBS News. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/new-years-resolutions-americans-opinion-poll/
Alfred, J. (2017, March 8). Why not to set a new year’s resolution & what to do instead. Pocket Mindfulness. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.pocketmindfulness.com/why-you-shouldnt-set-new-years-resolution/
Jenik, C., & Richter, F. (2020, December 18). Infographic: America’s top New Year’s resolutions for 2021. Statista Infographics. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.statista.com/chart/23812/most-popular-new-year-resolutions-americans/
Lexell, O. (2019, December 5). Weight-loss wagering apps are a game you can’t win. The Outline. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://theoutline.com/post/8392/weight-loss-wagering-healthywage-dietbet
Milkman, K. (2022, January 1). 5 science-based strategies for Nailing Your New Year’s resolutions. CNN. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.cnn.com/2022/01/01/health/how-to-set-new-year-resolutions-wellness/index.html
Wurtman, J. (2021, January 3). Is gambling on weight loss the best way to lose weight … Psychology Today. Retrieved January 18, 2022, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-antidepressant-diet/202101/is-gambling-weight-loss-the-best-way-lose-weight