The size of your resolution isn’t what causes you to quit. It’s because you’re going too fast. If you slow down, you’ll have a better chance at keeping your resolution.
Let me explain.
Maybe you want to get super fit, or land a massive promotion, or make millions in your new business. Those are big resolutions, and that’s great. You should. That’s not the problem.
What is is this. You want results now, or tomorrow, or next week. But that’s not how you reach big goals. That’s not how it works. It’s not fast. It’s slow.
It takes time to get healthy, lose weight, gain muscle, lean out. It takes a lot of work and wins to get a promotion, land that corner office, win that title. And most businesses take years, even decades, to build.
When you rush to achieve that resolution, you will feel defeated when you don’t make the progress you were hoping for after too short of a time. Instead, you need to set your expectations rightly. Extend your timeline—practice patience.
No one wants to hear that, I know. But it is the truth. The good news is that resolutions are achievable. All of what I lined out can be done. You just need to give yourself enough time to accomplish them.
You need to slow down. Take one step at a time. Set your internal clock accordingly, and you won’t feel like a failure because you didn’t lose twenty pounds or gain ten pounds of muscle or start running a 10K yet. You can be content with making those small steps and realize that you are playing the long game. But you’re playing to win.
A lot of reaching your resolutions is in building habits. And those take more time than we’d like to admit. Wendy Wood (affiliate), a research psychologist who’s spent the last three decades studying habits, has seen that different habits take different amounts of time to codify into one’s life. The more complex an act is, the more time it takes to make a habit.
Most of us have heard that it takes thirty to sixty days to create a habit. But Wood found that simple actions like doing some pushups every morning may take that amount of time, but going to the gym and doing a series of workouts would take more, like four or more months.
Habits are powerful. I’ve seen it in my life. Much of what I do that’s good for me is automatic. Doing my workout in the morning, intermittent fasting for twenty hours six days a week, reading fifty pages a day, writing this blog post are all built into my daily routine. I do it without thinking.
Sure, fasting twenty hours every day sucks. And I want to eat breakfast with my family, but it’s a lot easier than when I first started. But when I began forming that as a habit, I fasted for much shorter periods and took my time to get to where I am now. In short, when I started, I expected less of myself.
And I think that’s where a lot of our resolutions get shipwrecked. They are dashed on the rocks of our expectations. We expect ourselves to be much further ahead than we should, and when we aren’t where we think we should be after struggling for a month, we get discouraged, deflated and stop.
Instead, take your time, but also start smaller. Take smaller steps. If I would have tried to fasting every day for twenty hours, at first, I think I would have given up and stuffed my greedy face with all of the food I could find. But, by making my goal ten to twelve hours in the beginning, I was able to build confidence and, more importantly, the habit of intermittent fasting.
As you round out the first week of this fresh new year, you can reach your goals and fulfill your resolutions, even the big ones.
But don’t go fast. Slow down and form habits.