January 12. That’s the day every year that millions and millions of people report their New Year’s resolutions have already reached “failure” mode.
And that’s not all, according to Strava, the social network for athletes, which analyzed more than 31.5 million data points in January 2018 to break down how resolutions break down. Additionally, research by the University of Scranton has found that only 8 percent of those who set goals on January 1 achieve them by the ensuing December 31. Eight percent. That’s all!
So why do so few new year’s resolutions ever see the ball drop on December 31, and the majority don’t even make it to Valentine’s Day?
If you’re like 55 percent of the population, your No. 1 goal for the new year is health-related. For millions and millions of people, that health-related goal is to “lose weight and get in shape.”
If you’re doing better than most people who set that goal, you actually make a plan. Something like…
✓ Working out five days a week
✓ Eating a healthy diet
✓ Getting enough sleep
✓ Drinking enough water
And on top of that, of course, you’re still going to handle all of your “regular” life stuff—the things that kept you from going to the gym, led you to stress eating, not getting enough sleep and maybe even had you reaching for a wine glass.
If you’re like millions of other new year’s resolutions makers, by the end of two weeks (maybe a bit longer, if you’re lucky), you’ve thrown in the towel, and you went from doing those four simple things to falling back into your regular patterns.
This scenario may sound all too familiar. But, even if you’ve said so before, you must know that 2020 CAN be different. This really CAN be the year you’re in that 8 percent who stick to it until December 31 and beyond.
Together, we have a combined 30 years of transforming lives as fitness trainers. Over that time, we’ve learned some of the secrets to nailing any goal—especially if the goal is a physical transformation. Here are the secrets.
Secret No. 1: Change one behavior at a time.
To be successful, you have to focus. You can’t try to do everything at once.
This sounds counterintuitive because how can you achieve a goal by doing only one thing? But check out these stats: Research shows that when people change just one behavior at a time, the likelihood they’ll retain that habit for a year or more is above 80 percent.
If they try to change two behaviors at once, their chance of success drops to less than 35 percent. And if they try to change three habits at a time, their success rate plummets to less than 5 percent!
In our scenario above, there were four basic behaviors you were going to change at the same time. No matter how simple those habits may seem, the weight of the combined changes simply adds up.
Here’s something else to think about: There are thousands of effective weight loss programs out there. So why isn’t everyone lean and healthy? All of these programs tout themselves as having the solution to your weight loss, so why do nine out of 10 people fail in the long run?
The answer has nothing to do with any program. We’ve just been looking in the wrong place all along. We have been blinded by so much confusion that we’ve never thought to look for where the path to achieving our health goals really leads and what this kind of overall transformation is really about.
Secret No. 2: Strive for integrity.
Integrity is the secret we have used with all of our transformations over the years, and every single person will tell you that it changed their life forever.
Before we dive in deep, let’s take a moment to discuss what integrity is really about. When you have integrity, you do what you say you are going to do, when you say you are going to do it.
So often, we have integrity when it comes to promises we make to others. But we don’t hold ourselves accountable for promises we make to ourselves.
We are quick to make excuses for ourselves. Because we know all of the factors that led us to skip that trip to the gym for the first time. And we know how good that pizza looked at the Super Bowl party. And we know that there was more work piling up and how we got distracted, and we rationalize the failure.
If we didn’t, people wouldn’t have “lose weight and get in shape” as their new year’s resolution one January after another. This is where your integrity comes in.
* * *
As we said, this really CAN be the year when things work out different for you. Because secrets No. 1 and No. 2 can work together to make you a part of that rarified 8 percent on December 31.
When working with our clients, we call the one habit they choose to work on first their Power Promise. This Power Promise has to be so simple that they can keep it 100 percent of the time, no matter what.
It so happens that, as they keep that Power Promise every single time, they’re also building integrity with themselves. They are realizing that they are not a failure (like they’ve told themselves), and that they are capable of doing what they say they are going to do.
Yes, a Power Promise is so small, and oftentimes seemingly insignificant. But once someone realizes the power they have in keeping their own commitments, and they realize they can do what they say they are going to do repeatedly, they begin to push the limits.
If I can do this, then what else can I do? you say to yourself. Then comes Promise No. 2, then No. 3, No. 4 and so on. The promises grow in number and size over time as they gather what we call “integrity momentum.” The promises made (usually around a goal) grow as fast as your self-esteem and dignity.
So here’s the “secret” formula to joining the 8 percent club once and for all: One Power Promise + Integrity = Lifelong Transformation (and membership to that club we all want to join).
Still not convinced? Here’s an example of how a Power Promise and integrity can work together to transform your life for good. On our show, Extreme Weight Loss, we had a contestant who made a promise to do 30 minutes on the treadmill. If one of us tried to pull her off at 29 minutes, she would throw a punch at us. She would literally fight us to complete that last minute.
This really CAN be the year when things work out different for you.
Would one minute on a treadmill make any difference in her weight loss? Absolutely not! But she knew what was on the line, and nothing was worth jeopardizing the way she felt about herself and her newly found integrity. She understood where the true value is—not in the exercise, not in the diet, but in honoring her promise to herself—keeping her integrity.
Remember, to be successful and build Integrity, your Power Promise needs to be so small that it almost seems silly. We’ve even had some clients make “brush my teeth” their first Power Promise. Super simple, right? It has to be small enough so that when you’re lying in bed at night, and you realize you haven’t kept your Power Promise, you will still get up and get it done. That’s when you’ve found your Power Promise.
So there you have it: The two secrets—which work so fabulously together—to help you nail your new year’s resolution in 2020 and get you out of that 92 percent failure rate and into the 8 percent of those who are enjoying the way they feel in their bodies and the way they look in their clothes.
This article originally appeared in the January/February 2020 issue of SUCCESS magazine.
Photos courtesy of Powell Fitness