Unrealistic Vs Realistic Resolutions
One of the reasons so many of us give up on our New Years goals by February or March is that we set them too high. I know, I know—your friend or family member was able to set the same goal and keep it up. But her regular lifestyle, in the previous year, may have already put her much closer to that goal than you are. In other words, reaching it may have been easier for her because she was a few steps ahead of you. Don’t set your goals based on what someone else is doing, or what you wish some superhuman version of yourself could do. When you set them that way, you wind up feeling so overwhelmed by the giant mountain you’ve put in front of yourself to climb, that you collapse at the foot of it. Remember that you don’t have to reach the pinnacle of every goal this year. You can take baby steps. Here are some examples of realistic versus unrealistic New Year’s resolutions.
Unrealistic: I’ll hit the gym seven days a week
You want to be a true gym rat. You want to buy more workout clothes and sign up for the fancy (expensive) gym because you plan on spending a lot of time sweating. You set your alarms for 5:30 am every day of the week and tell your friends you can’t make your Sunday morning boozy brunches anymore—you’ll be at the gym.
Realistic: I’ll hit the gym three to four times a week
Here’s the thing: your body needs a day of rest from intense exercise so bring that number from seven days a week down to six. Furthermore, you’ll see pretty similar results if you hit the gym four to five days a week, while still allowing yourself to have a life and get some sleep. If you currently go one or two days a week, going four or five is a big improvement and something to feel proud of.
Unrealistic: I’m giving up all sugar
Whether it’s to get a handle on your blood sugar highs and lows, or simply to have a totally clean, pure diet, you vow to give up on sugar. You’ve read about the terrible things it can do to the body, and you’ve seen what a shredded figure your friend who avoids all sugar has. So you’re throwing out everything with even one gram of sugar in it in your pantry.
Realistic: I’m giving up artificial and excess sugar
Remember that sugar is in…almost everything. Including fruit—which has important vitamins and minerals, and tends to have enough fiber to counteract the sugar’s effects on your blood sugar. Sugar is also in non-sweet things like pasta sauce and dips. If you truly cut it completely, you could do your body harm (by missing out on fruit) and just have a bland diet. How about, instead, vowing to cut artificial sugar and anything that feels excessive? (Like that nightly candy habit).
Unrealistic: We’ll start having sex daily again
So you’re in a long-term relationship and your sex life is in a bit of a slump. That happens. But you know this one couple who has been together for a long time and does it every day. They seem so in love and vivacious. That’s it—you tell your partner that you two are going to do it every day, like you did when you first started dating.
Realistic: We’ll be more spontaneous
It’s important, when considering your sex life, to just think about what works for you and your partner, and not how outsiders will judge you. Yeah, it’s cool to be able to say you and your partner do the deed daily. But it can also become exhausting, feel like a chore, and take the fun out of it entirely. If you feel you need more intimacy in your relationship, make an effort to be more spontaneous about sex, rather than just wait for your weekly scheduled appointment in the sheets.
Unrealistic: I’m making every meal at home
Cooking at home has undeniable benefits. You can control portion sizes better, manage ingredients more, and save money. So you vow to make every single meal at home.
Realistic: I’m making weekday meals at home
You’ll kill your social life if you make every meal at home. Try, instead, making every weekday meal at home. Those were going to be spent on your couch or at your desk, anyways. But on the weekends, splurge on meals out with friends so you don’t wind up lonely and missing all the fun. And don’t forget about the joy of trying new foods at different restaurants—foods you don’t know how to make.
Unrealistic: I’m only spending money on essentials
You want to get aggressive about saving. You’d like to put a nice down payment on a home soon and retire by 60, comfortably. So you decide to be totally stingy, and only spend money on the essentials—gas, rent, health insurance, car insurance, and groceries.
Realistic: I’ll make a budget, and allow for fun
It is possible to reach your savings goals and still enjoy life. Create a budget. See how much you are allowed to spend on, say, entertainment and still meet your savings goals. Use budgeting apps to help you stick to these limits. You don’t have to give up on enjoying yourself, just to save. If you aren’t happy, it won’t feel worth it.
Unrealistic: I’m giving up alcohol
At the moment, you have a couple drinks every night to wind down. It leaves you feeling like a lush. You want to be like that super alert, really healthy friend of yours who never touches any toxins. So you’re ready to dump out every bottle of wine and handle in your house.
Realistic: I’m capping my drinks
If you don’t have a drinking problem, but you would just like to give your liver a little break, why don’t you just cap your weekly drinks off at the recommended amount? For women, that’s no more than three in one day, and no more than seven in a week.
Unrealistic: I’ll never gossip again
Sometimes, you and a friend or coworker indulges in a heavy gossip session. You really just lay it out there—every negative thing you’ve heard or seen about somebody. You don’t feel very good after, but it’s so addicting. So you vow to never speak about someone who isn’t present again.
Realistic: I’ll be more aware of my gossiping
Did you know that it’s actually human nature to talk about others? People have always gossiped—including our Neanderthal ancestors—as a way of identifying problematic and threatening humans in society. What I’m saying is that it’s hard to quit gossiping cold turkey. Instead, perhaps, try not to let gossip sessions go on too long. Only exchange information that you know or believe to be true, and don’t get into nasty, catty, judgmental statements.
Unrealistic: I’ll walk and bike everywhere
It’s good for the planet. It’s good for your body. It’s good for your bank account (since parking and gas are expensive). So you decide you’re going to walk and bike to work, the gym, social occasions, and just about anywhere within a seven-mile radius of your home.
Realistic: I’ll walk and bike when time allows
Walking also takes a lot of time, and sometimes you don’t have that time. If you walk everywhere, you’ll probably substantially limit the number of things you can accomplish in a day. Biking also means finding a place to store your bike everywhere you go. Be reasonable. Walk on leisurely days—like to the Farmer’s market or to Sunday brunch with friends. Bike only if the path feels safe and friendly to cyclists.