I read in The Skimm daily newsletter that most Americans bail on their New Year's Resolutions by January 17th. Other articles say the 12th, some say the 19th. But the point is that most people are only sticking with their resolutions for a few weeks. One of the biggest reasons is that people come up with lofty goals and they don't make realistic plans to achieve them. Then when they don't see results quickly, they give up.
Imagine your goal is to lose 25 pounds. To do this in a healthy and realistic way, you should lose weight at a rate of 1-2 pounds per week. This means it will take 3-6 months to lose 25 pounds. Your weight can also fluctuate up to 5 pounds in any given day depending on when you weigh yourself, what and when you've eaten or drank, if you're dehydrated, or if you exercised. After just 3 weeks of working towards you goal, you may have lost 3 pounds of fat, but the scale could read that you've gained 2 pounds. What could be more demotivating?!
This is why it's more important to focus on habits rather than on the scale. Every day that you complete a good habit will take you one step closer to the person you are trying to become. To quote James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, "You should be far more concerned with your current trajectory than with your current results". By focusing on the scale and not the good habits you've been completing in the past 3 weeks, it will seem like you aren't successful. But imagine the kind of person you could be a year from now if you focus on staying consistent with your habits.
This applies to much more than weight loss. It applies to fitness goals like running a marathon or holding an arm balance in yoga, special skills like playing guitar or mastering a new language, the list goes on.
Focus on the habits. Keep track of them every day. Let's go back to the weight loss example. Weight loss can happen from a combination of exercise and food intake. Did you jog for 5 minutes? Track it! After three weeks you may have run a total of 10 miles without realizing it. Let that be your accomplishment. Did you swap water for soda at lunch? Track it! At the end of three weeks you may have cut 3000 calories out of your diet. Did you take the stairs instead of the elevator? Track it! You might climb 100 flights in a few weeks. Imagine where you'll be in a year!
Now let's take that and reverse it, because bad habits compound too. If you watch another episode of The Office each day instead of working out, you're reinforcing a sedentary lifestyle. If you drink soda at lunch instead of water every day, that's 3000 more calories in your diet. If you take the elevator instead of the stairs, your cardiovascular endurance isn't improving.
You don't need to do the good habits every single day. It's not an all-or-nothing activity. But the more you continue to focus on good habits instead of the bad, the closer you will get to your goals. Make sure the food habits are outweighing the bad. Imagine yourself one year from now. Where will you be if you don't incorporate the good habits into your life? Where will you be if you do?
Here's another quote from James Clear: "Every action you take is a vote for the type of person you wish to become. No single instance will transform your beliefs, but as the votes build up, so does the evidence of your new identity". Read that again. Keep building up the evidence by tracking your habits instead of focusing on the end goal. Little by little you will get closer to becoming the person you want to be.
To help you track your habits, I've created a free month long habit tracker spreadsheet. Enter your name and email into the form on this page so that I can send it to you! Or message me on Instagram @PlannedPlate. Here's a sample of what it looks like!