Motivation Articles

The Worst New Year's Resolutions You Can Make

Start Strong by Starting with the Right Goals

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So, at your upcoming New Year's party, don't just follow the crowd and spout simple, undeveloped resolutions. You've now got the knowledge to create a personalized plan of action that will help you to start the year off right: with a renewed sense of excitement about your journey toward total health and wellness. Regardless of the specific goals you're trying to tackle this year, the best and most effective resolutions are always:
  • Small and easy to achieve without much extra effort. For example, start by adding just 10 more minutes of exercise per week (as opposed to the lofty goal of an extra hour, five days per week!).
  • Specific and behavior-focused. "Eat 3 servings of veggies each day" is a specific behavior that you can observe and measure while "eat healthier" is not easy to define.
  • Designed with a reward in mind. Hold off on purchasing that new jacket, gadget or smart phone app until meet your goal of exercising five days per week or completing your first 5K this spring.
  • Taken on one at a time. Overhauling your entire lifestyle at once can be too intense. Don't be afraid to focus on the exercise first, and start to eat healthier foods later (or vice versa).
  • Reviewed and revised often. Revisit your goals at the end of each week to see how well they're working for you. Don't wait for the entire year to pass before you evaluate your progress or add in a new challenge.
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About The Author

Megan Coatley Megan Coatley
Megan is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with a masterís degree in applied behavior analysis from Western Michigan University. As a health and wellness coach, she combines her passion for nutrition and fitness with her professional talents to help others creative positive, lasting change and live healthier lives.

Member Comments

  • I resolve NOT to make silly resolutions I CANNOT keep and to do things NOT because I feel I HAVE to to lose weight but because I want and because I enjoy them. - 12/28/2013 9:38:45 PM
  • I started a rule for myself that for every bad thing I eat, I need to eat 2 good things, like a vegetable and fruit. That way, I am eating healthy, but I also can get my peanut butter cup in there once in a while! - 12/27/2013 11:46:20 AM
  • ! E X C E L L E N T !
    I especially like the one about NOT forbiding bad food

    THANKS ! - 2/4/2013 10:42:07 PM
  • This year, my resolutions were all "Do"s - Do drink 8 glasses of water, eat 9 cups of produce (3 cups leafy veggies, 3 cups fruit, 3 cups other veg), and get 7 hours of sleep per night. So far so good, but the sleep is turning out to be the hard part. - 1/8/2013 7:09:09 PM
    My only "resolution" this year was to come at this from a completely different angle. I'm not doing this to lose weight, I'm doing it to get healthy.....if I lose weight along the way GREAT! But I am not going to put myself in a position and get "manic" every Friday morning because I weigh in! It works for me because the pressure of "losing" is off. - 1/8/2013 11:42:30 AM
  • Excellent re-focusing. It's particularly good because you target some of the 'good' things we resolve to increase as well as challenging ways of eliminating 'bad' behavior strategies.

    Thank you. - 1/8/2013 8:05:38 AM
    This is a really positive article that works because it is based on how our minds work. The human mind cannot process negatives, which by saying I am going to stop doing something is is telling your mind exactly the opposite. If I asked you not to think of a pink elephant you cannot do it as your mind has to create the image first for you then to attempt to ignore it. People often ask me how long have been stopped smoking, I tell them I haven't, its just been 2 years since my last one. This way I do not feel like I have given up or lost anything. The other mistake I used to make was to tell people I was going to try to lose weight/ stop smoking etc. I have since learnt this is not a positive way to look at things. You can not try to do something you even do it or you don't.
    Keep positive and acheive your goals through 2013. - 1/8/2013 7:42:27 AM
  • This article hit home for me and I really appreciate it. After years of making a resolution to lose "x" pounds by "y" date, I've modified my goals this year. And reading this article confirms that I'm on the right track. Thank you, SparkPeople!
    - 1/8/2013 6:51:19 AM
  • Excellent recommendations! - 1/8/2013 6:37:35 AM
  • I saw this article title and all I immediately thought was:

    *No Resolution*

    If you don't have hope and actually set a resolution, then how can you reach your goal, your dreams, your BEST YOU.
    - 1/8/2013 1:58:35 AM
  • I at age 57 have decided never to make resolutions because I don't want to open myself up to ye ole guilt if and, because I'm human, when I fail. Forgiving myself and getting back on the horse after the fall is much better than never getting back on at all which I have done several times so far this past year. I'm just continuing on my journey at my own pace without the pressure of any pesky "resolution" lingering in the back of my mind. I know what I need to do, and I'm doing it, albeit at a more leisurely and pressureless (is that a word?) pace. I believe that coincides with the point made to incorporate small changes or expanding on already healthy changes made and, hopefully, eventually leaving the unhealthy habits by the wayside.

    That said, I hope everybody has a Happy New Year!! - 12/31/2012 1:58:01 PM
  • MARTY32M
    Good but not good enough. The example "Eat 3 servings of veggies each day" is not really specific and behavior-focused. When are you going to eat those veggie? What will you eat? If you don't figure that out in advance you could reach the end of the day without eating those three servings.

    I take this as the message: be specific, be realistic, be committed. I broke rule 1 in the article when I quit smoking. I took the big jump to quit cold turkey. But I was specific: I gave my last pack to my wife. I was realistic: I told her to give me one more if I really, really needed it. And I was committed: I had failed three times before and I wasn't going to fail again. And it worked.

    I see a lot of wisdom in the article but also some nonsense. I would say just know yourself, know your weaknesses, your strengths, and your responsibilities, and if there's something you want to change, be specific, be realistic, and be committed.

    Rules (my father used to tell me) were made to be broken. But you have to know why you break them. - 12/31/2012 1:08:18 PM
    This article helped me. I like the positive twist. The best thing I did for myself this holiday was to give myself permission to get my Christmas cards out late. I had a flurry of work and home commitments, and I got my cards out late. But every day until i finally got them out, I was so happy that I was pacing myself and not going crazy, feeling that I must pushpushpush beyond reason to get them out on "time". I did it when it was reasonable to do so, and left the guilt at the door. - 12/31/2012 9:20:51 AM
    I hate, hate, hate reading Spark People everyday, yet I have to. The stories and advice is timely and easy-to-understan
    d. I am pissed off that at 53 years old, I still need advice. Deep down inside, I am confident that I know what I should and should not be doing and I am annoyed that I need a cruch like Spark People. The bottom line is that Spark People works. Thank you! - 12/31/2012 8:47:37 AM
    Thank you Megan for such an excellent article. I really appreciate the tips for getting started and staying on track just by making simple changes and substitutions in my diet. You've given me some very good ideas for getting motivated and for moving ahead in my journey towards better health. - 1/6/2012 6:55:44 PM

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