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Why Resolutions Fail and What You Can Do Instead

New Year's Resolutions
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I don’t know about you, but there had been many a year where I woke up on Jan 1 with big plans to lose that weight, get off my tush, and stop eating the junky food I know doesn’t work for my body.

I would be Johnny-on-the-Spot for a few days, maybe a week, and then the air would seep out of my resolution balloon and I’d be back to where I started, by about…now.

And I know I’m not alone.

People are always excited about the prospect of a new year; getting a clean slate to start fresh and create the lives we want.

After the struggle that was 2020, the stakes were even higher for this new year. We have attached some big pretty big expectations for what 2021 should deliver.

Unfortunately for so many reasons, many of these ‘shoulds’ may already feel derailed. Whether by the massive COVID surge going on around us, or by the situation in Washington, it would be easy to say, “see, this year is already gone to pot, nothing has changed. Pass the donuts.”

And that is exactly the problem. ‘Shoulds,’ resolutions and expectations are tricky things.  They feel like we are doing something, but in fact they are empty statements, often built on nothing. They also  take us out of the driver’s seat, because when things don’t go our way, or they are impossible to keep up, it’s relatively easy to bow out, beat ourselves up and give up.

But it doesn’t have to be this way.

Instead, here’s the secret to creating change setting yourself for success and bolstering your resolve so that you will avoid the pitfalls which often derail even the best planned New Year’s resolutions.

It’s not sexy. It’s not magic. But it works.

We must shift from focusing on what we SHOULD do to what we CAN do.

Just because the date on our checks changes (I mean for those who still write checks) doesn’t mean we become a different person. If you didn’t like running or eating kale for breakfast, lunch and dinner on December 31, you aren’t going to like it on January 1st, and by January 15, you’re going to be super annoyed if that’s all you’ve been eating. And by February 1st you’ll probably be back to your 2020 eating.

So, instead think about what you CAN do somewhat easily, or at least with enough ease that you don’t HATE it.

  • Can you add kale into your diet?
  • Can you commit to getting a FitBit to track your exercise and see if you can improve it daily?
  • Can you make walking dates with friends?
  • Can you try switching from half and half to low-fat or coconut cream?
  • Can you go down to one Diet Coke a day?
  • Can you give yourself a certain number of social media visits a day?

I don’t know. Only you can know what you want and, more importantly, what feels like something you can do without too much white-knuckling.

Small improvements will move us forward toward our big goals and make us more emboldened to take on even more powerful steps towards where we want to be.


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Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas
Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas
Betsy Rosenfeld Vargas is a certified Fearless Living Life Coach. Raised in Los Angeles, she attended Marlborough School and was the President of Cuisine à Roulettes at St. Vincent Meals on Wheels. She holds a BA from the University of Pennsylvania and an MA from USC.

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