With the New Year in full swing, ask yourself: did you make New Year’s res­o­lu­tions? How is that work­ing for you? A quick Google search of the most pop­u­lar New Year’s Res­o­lu­tions in­di­cates that the ma­jor­ity of people are re­ally feel­ing the pres­sures of a h

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The usual sus­pects are on the list – lose weight, get fit, cut down on al­co­hol or give up smok­ing. So why do so many people make these res­o­lu­tions and fail to achieve them? Here are a few thoughts on what usu­ally hap­pens when people make res­o­lu­tions and then, how to avoid these traps to achieve last­ing change.

Mo­ti­va­tion ver­sus Com­mit­ment

When people make New Year’s res­o­lu­tions, they are usu­ally re­ly­ing on mo­ti­va­tion. Some­thing oc­curs to trig­ger an emo­tion and all of a sud­den, you’re mo­ti­vated to do some­thing in re­sponse.

Check out these words of wis­dom from health coach Craig Harper (www. and see if they ring true: The trap is that mo­ti­va­tion is a short­term emo­tion. Some­times you are mo­ti­vated and some­times you are not.

Com­mit­ment, on the other hand, is a con­stant state. Com­mit­ment means con­sis­tent be­hav­iours, main­tain­ing stan­dards and a non-ne­go­tiable mind­set. Un­like mo­ti­va­tion, com­mit­ment is not fleet­ing, wa­ver­ing or un­pre­dictable.

People who rely solely on the height­ened emo­tional state of mo­ti­va­tion to pro­duce long-term pos­i­tive change rarely suc­ceed be­cause their choices, ac­tions and re­sults are in­vari­ably de­ter­mined by their ever-chang­ing level of mo­ti­va­tion. That is, their level of ex­cite­ment, enthusiasm and fo­cus on a given day. Some people will spend their lives at the mercy of their un­re­li­able emo­tions rather than ex­plor­ing their po­ten­tial and pos­si­bil­i­ties via their strength, courage and con­vic­tion. Stop­ping and start­ing but rarely get­ting the job done over the long term. Think­ing, plan­ning and in­tend­ing their way to nowhere in par­tic­u­lar.

When you are to­tally com­mit­ted to your dreams, goals and val­ues, your day-to-day level of mo­ti­va­tion will be ir­rel­e­vant and unim­por­tant.

Here are some typ­i­cal ‘res­o­lu­tions’ that are made by many people ev­ery year: I’m go­ing on a diet I’m go­ing to get fit I’m go­ing to cut down on al­co­hol I’m go­ing to give up smok­ing I’m go­ing to lose weight.

When people make these res­o­lu­tions they usu­ally vig­or­ously launch them­selves into some sort of ‘pro­gram’ such as a detox diet or six week ex­er­cise pro­gram, seek­ing a quick fix to solve their per­ceived prob­lems. In time, the pro­gram ends, the short­term emo­tion of mo­ti­va­tion be­gins to wane, life gets in the way and the goal is not achieved. This makes you feel as though you have failed and you quickly re­turn to your old habits and any changes made are lost or do not oc­cur at all.

If you are un­happy with your phys­i­cal health, it has prob­a­bly taken quite a long time for you to get into this sit­u­a­tion. So when you de­cide to make a change, why should you ex­pect or de­mand a quick fix or in­stant re­sults? You must be real­is­tic and pa­tient. You have to make a com­mit­ment – and this takes ef­fort and time. Trans­for­ma­tion starts with our think­ing, choices, be­hav­iours and habits. If you want im­proved phys­i­cal health, you need to con­sis­tently make healthy choices and be­hav­iours part of your nor­mal life­style. Once these be­come au­to­matic and ha­bit­ual, you have started the process of last­ing trans­for­ma­tion.

Here are some sim­ple tips on healthy choices and be­hav­iours when think­ing about im­prov­ing your phys­i­cal health and fit­ness: 1. Ex­plore your po­ten­tial and de­scribe what suc­cess looks like in a way that is mean­ing­ful to you. 2. Write down why and what you want to change about yourself and how you will do this. 3. Make a com­mit­ment to yourself and in­clude some non-ne­go­tiables. 4. Start with small, achiev­able and sus­tain­able changes, but ap­ply these changes con­sis­tently and keep pro­gres­sively adding to them over time. 5. Keep track of your progress and be ac­count­able to yourself and/or some­one else. 6. Seek out and talk to people who can help you to start em­brac­ing healthy habits as be­ing nor­mal and life­long, rather than un­usual, short-term or pro­gram based.

Im­proved phys­i­cal health and fit­ness is achiev­able if you are pre­pared to do what is re­quired. The ques­tion is ‘when’?

“What is best for people is what they do for them­selves.” Ben­jamin Franklin.

When people make New Year’s res­o­lu­tions, they are usu­ally re­ly­ing on mo­ti­va­tion. Some­thing oc­curs to trig­ger an emo­tion and all of a sud­den, you’re mo­ti­vated to do some­thing in re­sponse.’

Lau­retta Stace is Chief Ex­ec­u­tive Of­fi­cer of Fit­ness Aus­tralia.

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