Improper New Year’s Resolutions

It’s about that time of year when we all promise ourselves to make a change in our lives. Unfortunately, sometimes that promise goes very wrong. Follow Modern Manners Guy’s 3 tips for realistic New Year’s resolutions.

Richie Frieman
6-minute read
Episode #229

Improper New Year’s Resolutions

As I sit here finishing up a bowl of ice cream, I am reminded of New Year’s resolutions past. Every year, I promise to eat better, live better, do something different – and of course, chill out on the ice cream. Not that I eat terribly or have an unhealthy lifestyle (I don’t smoke, rarely drink, and work out regularly), but I am eating ice cream topped with extra chocolate syrup, so let’s say I have some work to do. Which is OK, right? Isn't this what a New Year’s resolution is all about? To start new, fresh, and kick old bad habits. But why is it that sometimes making a New Year’s resolution goes oh so very wrong, causing us more trouble than we ever thought possible? Let’s find out.

Hopped up on the spirit of renewal, many of us get excited about making New Year’s resolutions and wind up with lofty goals that are out of reach for even the wildest of dreamers. And don’t get me wrong, I’m a bigger dreamer than most, but the problem occurs when you set a goal and then realize you aimed just a bit too high. That can bring you down…and then you’re back to square one.

So before you plan that trip to Antarctica, buy a $10,000 state-of-the-art treadmill, or vow to try out for your favorite professional sports team, check out my top 3 Quick and Dirty Tips for proper New Year's resolutions:

Tip #1: The Battle of the Bulge

Losing weight and getting in shape always tops my list of New Year's resolutions. And every year I see something on TV that I have to have, or have to do, that will make me look just like one of those UFC fighters I watch on TV. Why not, right? One of my favorite fighters, Randy Couture, won the heavyweight title in his 40s! The only difference between me and him is that I want to have his abs without getting into a ring and fighting to the death. Seems easy to me.

Plus, wouldn't you know it, Randy has his own workout system on sale now – if I act fast! – for a very reasonable $300. I can pay in installments. Even better! And to top it all off, to look like a man that has spent nearly 25 years shaping his body into what resembles a Greek God, I can do it in only 30 minutes a day, for one month. Well, that's all I need to see. Where's my credit card? Sign me up! Who knows, if keep up with this routine, I may even be able to consider a career in the Octagon after two months of this bad boy.

And this is how I start my New Year's resolution campaign every year. So sad.

I'm not saying that you shouldn’t aim to be healthier and in better shape. And trust me, I'm not saying this specific equipment won't do it. What I am saying is that when you set a goal to lose weight, get in shape, or alter your poor health in any way, you have to do so reasonably and give yourself enough time to accomplish the goal. Time is the key. You have to put in the time to work out, to prepare proper meals, and to research how you can live a healthier life too (I suggest the Nutrition Diva and Get-Fit Guy podcasts to start).

However in my case, and I'm sure I'm not alone on this, I tend to pick an incredibly unrealistic goal and time frame, only to come up short and feel miserable when I don’t miraculously look like an Adonis after two weeks. And this ultimately lands me back at square one, with that new piece of equipment now acting as the most expensive clothes hanger I’ve ever purchased.

When setting a goal to be healthier, you must be reasonable. If you want to look like a UFC Champion, you can…but if your only experience of the sport came courtesy of the video game, chances are it will take more than 30 minutes a day for two weeks. Or if you want to run the New York City Marathon, it's best to prepare slowly, rather than head off onto a trail to run 26 miles, having never ran more than 3 (I'm so guilty of this).

This New Year’s, aim to be healthy but give yourself proper time and resources to do so. That way, when you start to see results, you'll be even more motivated to continue the program and actually get that rockin' body you’ve always wanted. However, if you believe the hype and expect it to be fast and easy, you may feel pretty disappointed and discouraged when it doesn't happen.

Tip #2: Let's Climb Mt. Everest!

Last January I got a call from a good friend who announced that his resolution was to going to climb Mt. Everest in the New Year. He was talking a mile a minute about how excited he was and couldn't wait to get started. He even asked his boss if he could take time off work, what would be six months from then. I was very excited for my friend too. Why not? How many people can say they climbed Everest, right?

Then we started talking and he mentioned that he has never been mountain climbing, only hiking through parks, which is like saying you want to go from miniature golf to playing on the PGA Tour. As well, he said that he didn't even know much about mountain climbing but was going to do take a class from a "guru" who lived in town. Despite obviously slim odds, I was optimistic for him and wished him well…until I got a call two weeks later from my depressed friend who had finally realized what he was getting into. 

This is an example of an improper New Year's resolution – improper because it has such a high level of difficulty so as to be unattainable for the average person. Anyone could look like a UFC Champion and have abs that make women swoon, if they put in the time and training. However, unlike the unrealistic, yet somewhat attainable goal of getting ripped and lean, this Everest resolution is simply impossible for most of us. My friend was going from zero to 100 with no break pedal. His goal was completely outside the realm of possibility, not least because the trip alone would cost $5,000, which my friend didn’t have. To that, add $2,500 of required equipment and $150 per week for training with the mountain climbing "guru."

My friend should have aimed slightly lower – like maybe learning to do indoor rock climbing – and a lot cheaper. Instead, he was amped up to tackle the world’s tallest mountain, a feat that has only ever been achieved by about 3,000 experienced climbers, and has caused hundreds of deaths. My friend felt completely broken down before he could even purchase his new climbing coat.

So before you plan that big trip to stand on top of the world, make sure you have done all your research to see if it's even feasible, so you aren't let down as you get too invested in it, both emotionally and financially.