If you set yourself lofty resolutions this year, there’s a good chance you’re starting to struggle with maintaining them. With most resolutions being dropped within eight weeks, the odds of failing are high. This year, we want to share the benefits of failure and how making mistakes can help us to develop and maintain new healthy habits.
Persistence is about continuing to try in the face of failure
Forming new habits is difficult, but one success factor is the ability to persevere even after we’ve slipped up. Having a positive relationship with failure can help us get back to working towards our goals and building healthy habits. If you wanted to work out every day but spent a week loafing with a tv series, that’s okay! Perseverance is how we learn from our failures and modify our goals to make our next attempt easier.
If you have allowed your resolutions to lapse, asking yourself some tough questions can help you get back on track.
- What can be changed in your environment to prevent you from easily lapsing on your goals? This might mean you remove things from your grocery list, find new spots to meet up with friends, or pre-pack your workout gear to encourage yourself to hit the gym after work.
- What do you notice about yourself when it is hard to do something? There are many ways to make your goals more convenient, from ordering a meal kit to adjusting your schedule or joining an adult team or fitness group.
- How does failure make you feel? Keeping a journal can help you understand more about your relationship to your goals and yourself. Learning to find the value in not meeting your own expectations can help you stay focused and motivated.
Developing a healthy habit relies on us knowing we will do poorly at first.
It seems counterintuitive, but if you want to make healthy changes in your life, understanding you might do a bad job at first can help you succeed. Many people give up on their resolutions of healthy changes because they see failure as an impossible feat to overcome.
“When you make healthy changes to your lifestyle, you are up against years of ingrained behaviour, and it’s normal to muck up!”
You can learn to tolerate failure better by setting less specific goals and learning to roll with the bumps along the way. If you are trying to lose weight, especially a specific number, a reframe can help you moderate the negative feelings you might experience if you don’t meet those specific goals.
Failure can indicate a goal that is too complicated or unachievable.
If you’ve made highly specific goals for the New year and are struggling to maintain them, it might be time to explore the core feelings at the heart of your resolutions. Healthy eating can be about curiosity to try new things; exercise can build a wider friend group; productivity can be about prioritizing rest. Reframing our goals isn’t a failure. It’s about exploring the reasons we set them in the first place, asking if there’s a simpler way we can move forward, and finding playful ways to create healthier habits.
- If you want to change your diet, try exploring new foods! Buy something you’ve never eaten before and find a recipe that sparks your curiosity.
- If you set weight loss goals, a good reframe might be finding joy in moving your body and learning about yourself. Try doing something you’ve never done before, like joining ballroom dancing or learning to rollerskate. Moving our bodies can be fun and joyful when we set aside strict resolutions and find ways to simply enjoy exercise.
- If you hope to learn a language, try to find a group where you can all learn and practice together. The social atmosphere will promote learning and allow you to find humour in being a beginner.
Keep up your New Year’s resolutions by reframing!
As January comes to a close, many are starting to forego healthy changes one little thing at a time. When we check in with how we feel and what we notice about forming new habits, it allows us to re-evaluate our approach and try again. By embracing failure as an essential opportunity for growth, we can incorporate our goals into our daily habits one day at a time!