Love them or hate them, New Year’s resolutions have been a tradition for thousands of years in many different societies. The earliest New Year’s resolutions have religious origins.
At the start of each year, the Babylonians vowed to their gods that they would return anything they borrowed and would pay off debts.
The Romans made similar promises to Janus, a literal two-faced god of beginnings and endings and doors, during an annual festival for the god. They would also exchange goods and gifts to one another on the Festival of Janus, as depicted in the writings of the Roman poet Ovid. If Janus sounds familiar, it’s because that month of January is named after this god.
In what is perhaps the best New Year’s resolution, medieval knights took what was called a “peacock vow” at the end of the Christmas season to reaffirm their vows of chivalry. Knights would rest their hand on a live or roasted peacock while reasserting these oaths for the next 12 months. The modern-day equivalent to the peacock vow would be planting a grubby hand on the Christmas turkey leftovers while promising to be kind to everyone for the next year.
Times have changed, and so have attitudes toward New Year’s resolutions and the annual resolutions themselves. While most of us won’t be taking a peacock vow, plenty of elitefts team members have thoughts and opinions on the resolutions themselves...
New Year’s resolutions suck. I am not setting any, and neither should you. How many people do you know that set resolutions last year kept them? None, right?
Gyms are full of them. People sign up in January with the idea that they will train all the time. It’s a madhouse for a week or two, and then they are all back on the couch bingeing Netflix a week later. Resolutions not met. Instead, try using different semantics. Set small goals leading to a long-term larger goal. Achievable ones. Make a list of short-term and long-term goals. Work towards each small one and make sure they all lead to the bigger one. This sounds like wordplay but it works.
Resolutions are usually huge and unachievable. Things like, I am losing 100 pounds, not drinking, adding 100 pounds to my bench. It’s all bullshit. No one follows through.
But what if you said that you were cutting your drinking back this month by two drinks? Next month, two more. See? That will work.
And be sure to build in some type of reward for hitting the small goals!
Maybe this is just me being old and cranky, but New Year’s resolutions are for the weak and unmotivated.
If a goal is truly important to you, you’ll simply do whatever it takes from the moment you decide you want it. An arbitrary date on the calendar shouldn’t have any influence whatsoever.
I've never done a New Year's resolution. Not that they aren't useful, but saying "I'm going to do X this year" is unrealistic when it comes to changing habits. I've had less success with "I'm going to read one book this month" and more success with "I'm going to read one chapter today." It gives me a timeline that is tangible. It's a smaller and more manageable goal. And if I fail then I wasted one day, not one month or one year.
I used the reading example because that's on my mind. I've been in a habit of buying books on Amazon and letting them stack up. So my New Year’s resolution is to read every day. It doesn't matter what or how much.
I don’t make New Year’s resolutions. I think they’re dumb and made by people who lack conviction. It’s why 80 percent of people who make resolutions fail within a month. If something were important enough to achieve, then a diligent person wouldn’t need the calendar to change to get after it.
I want sub-10 percent body fat and the ability to remain challenged in the gym despite the fact I’m getting older and feeling my age. Needless to say, I train four days per week with iron along with a few hot yoga sessions sprinkled in for health, flexibility, and longevity. I continue to research and put into practice new training methods to stimulate growth. I strive to challenge myself in different ways than simply adding more weight on a bar. I train smarter so I can continue to train harder, and I don’t need a calendar to tell me it’s time.
2018 was the hardest year of my life from a personal perspective. While I hold out hope that 2019 is different, nothing changes in my approach to things I cannot control on January 1st. I intend to approach life with the same humility, love for my family, honorable stewardship of the resources God’s given me; all while pushing myself in the gym to maintain sanity through the chaos.
My New Year’s resolution is a layered response as it pertains to my personal life, coaching life, and my training / competing life. The top of this pyramid will be determined by my personal life because when that is successful the other areas are successful.
This is for me personally and does not apply for everyone else. Currently, the goal for my family now is to move into a new house. We have two growing kids, and we are about out of room in our current home. The home situation then leads to my other resolution, and that is to give myself a raise. My wife and I are both strength coaches who have personal training clientele, online clientele, and do team coaching.
We both have the ability to increase our own business and in doing so it will make our first resolution much less of a stressor. It will also make us better coaches at the same time… two birds with one stone! It was not too long ago that someone said to me, “You are becoming a better coach than an athlete.”
This statement was difficult for me to hear at first, but with many life changes that happened in 2018, I would like to inch my total closer towards where it used to be when powerlifting was the No. 1 priority in my life. Granted, I know I may never reach that point again, but I will enjoy writing my own programming and work to tie my best all-time total. So if we are being technical here, I have three resolutions for 2019. These layered resolutions have a direct effect on the outcome of the others.
I think New Year’s resolutions can be a great thing for some people… if there is intent behind them. All too often people have empty words and motives when it comes to resolutions. Nowadays, I feel there is a level of accountability with a resolution if you include people close to you.
My perspective is similar to Dave’s comparison of someone wanting to train like a powerlifter and someone who is a competitive powerlifter. There is a difference. If you train like a powerlifter you do not have the stressors of someone getting ready for a meet on a particular day, with a weight class, and other competitors. Same as if you make a resolution and say, “I’ll just start next week.” You have nothing to hold you accountable at this point and just proved your words to mean nothing. I think when you make a resolution and have someone in on it with you the level of accountability is enhanced and there is more skin in the game.
I think New Year's resolutions are helpful because they provide an extra level of motivation. For some people, they may have danced around the idea of getting back in the gym or sticking to their diet. The new year may give them the extra motivation to stick to their plan(s) and start anew.
NYR #1: Spending less time on my phone. I often use the excuse that my entire business revolves around my phone, but in all honesty, I know that really isn’t a legitimate excuse. Currently, I have two young children (2 and 11 months), and we are expecting a third this March. Since having kids, it seems that time goes by faster now than it did when before kids so I really don’t want to miss any of these moments in my children's lives because I’m too “busy” on my stupid phone. I want to be able to be present in all of the moments in my children’s lives no matter how big or small.
NYR#2: As I’ve gotten older, I’ve found the hardest aspect of my training is sticking to my diet and not self-sabotaging on the weekend. I've never had an issue with discipline or staying motivated, but sticking to firm dietary principles simply during the weekdays has been a stretch. I plan only allowing myself to “eat what I want” only 10 percent of my total meals (i.e. if I eat a total of 25 meals a week, I’ll be allowed 2.5 cheat meals).
“Resolutions” are decisions and in this particular context, decisions concerning goals. The whole “New Year’s resolutions” (or Monday resolutions, or post-birthday resolutions, or post-divorce resolutions) is about making an inventory and setting new goals.
I’m not a fan of the trend, though. I think it can do more harm than good because it is not realistic or evidence-based. A goal is the desired outcome of a given set of actions. The more autonomous the person is, the more intrinsic, hierarchical, and wide-spanning will be his or her goals.
My short-term goal is building the long-term goal.
I’m not one to make New Year’s resolutions. They never seemed realistic to me. Rather, I pick a word that can be influential – and every year I add on to it. Think of these words as values that are important to you. Whether it’s a value you need to experience or a value you want to prioritize. I started this a few years ago:
- 2017: Growth
- 2018: Be Bold
- 2019: Be Selfish
To be selfish has a negative connotation to it and one of the main reasons why I picked it. When I think of the word(s), I imagine curiosity without explanation. Have a desire, do it, and deal with the consequences later. It’s not a matter of searching for the truth or the right answers but filtering out the wrong ones.
Why do we give our time and energy away for a program we really don’t know much about? To adapt as athletes and eventually filter out what doesn’t work for us. So, in ten years, we’re doing less to get to our end goal that we don’t necessarily ever reach. I’m not saying train without reason, but the bigger picture is key.
Within this “be selfish” approach for the new year; being bold and experiencing growth are still important values to me. Really, they all fall within the same umbrella. That’s the beauty of picking a word. It’s whatever it means to you and what you need. But like all things, you have to commit. If being selfish will piss other people off, so be it. They’ll forgive you later. If being bold means to start your own business, well, look at Dave Tate. Within all your decision-making, you are growing one way or another. You are (mostly) failing and (rarely) succeeding and those are equally important. “With great responsibility comes great power,” and the power is you are always in choice.
Selfishly, I’m choosing to put myself in situations or opportunities that I benefit from: A trip. An orgasm. Another geared meet. A brutally honest conversation (you’d think this would be an easy one). I’m “cheating” my way to lift heavier weights and bigger totals in hopes that my raw numbers will go up. There’s also a possibility that my numbers will stay the same, and by then, I would have dedicated 18 months to only find out that I failed an approach. Now what? I know what didn’t work and I try a different approach. I still benefit from the experience.
What will your word be?
“New Year’s Resolutions” are, in my judgement, constructs of people who lack the knowledge and self-awareness sufficient to realize their arbitrary and irresponsible nature.
Arbitrary because the approximation of 365 days merely represents the orbital period of the earth around the sun (as such, a ‘year’, as humans recognize it, is only relative to the earth; and as soon as we migrate to the Mars a ‘year’ will mean 687 days). Thus, will Elon Musk’s Martians reduce the significance of their ‘New Year’s Resolutions’ by ~47% because nearly two earth years will pass before another resolution opportunity comes around, or increase it by 188% because the Martian resolution will last almost twice as long?
Irresponsible because, as statista.com notes (resultant of surveying 1,159 adults from various sources in 2017), the three most common New Year’s Resolutions for 2018 were “eat healthier”, “get more exercise”, and “save more money”. These results are approximate to those tallied by Nielsen ratings. It is uncontroversial to state that resolutions such as these are not unique to this past year, they are ubiquitous to most years. Each one represents a profound implication to one’s psycho-emotional-behavioral-medical health and well-being. For this reason, it is irresponsible to cast a particular calendar date that only comes once every 365 days to resolve matters of such foundational significance.
Ask yourself, if you’re medically unhealthy (by any margin), obese (by any margin), or struggling financially (by any margin), how sensible is it to wait for January first to being problem solving these issues? Worse, if you’re a soon to be Martian, do you put these foundationally significant tasks off for, potentially, nearly twice as long?
New Year’s Resolutions are, in my judgement, arbitrary and irresponsible. If something is important to you, do not wait for some calendar date to do something about it. Perhaps this wisdom was reflected in the 4th most popular vote on the statista.com survey for 2018 which was:“I don’t plan on making new year’s resolutions”.
Like most things in life, I think the effectiveness of New Year’s resolutions depends on (1) the person making them, and (2) how they’re carried out. For most people, New Year's resolutions burn out quickly because they aren’t realistic or sustainable for the individual, or there wasn’t a good plan put in place to accomplish them.
At the end of the day, choose goals in 2019 that you are passionate about and fulfill your values, and then discipline yourself to do the hard work that will make them sustainable. They won’t come easily, but if they’re truly significant they aren’t supposed to. Believe in yourself and put the work in to make 2019 a year not just of “not-failed resolutions,” but a stepping stone that will build into 2020.
I think that New Year’s resolutions are great tools to help you plan out annual goals. Though I believe every day, you should wake up with small daily goals you want to accomplish (that way your day has a direction and purpose), annual goals allow you to check your daily goals to see if you’re setting yourself up for the big picture. So for example, if I say my big picture goal is to be a director again one day but day in and day out I’m showing up late to work then I am not setting myself up very well for my big picture goal.
This year, I want...
- To become more sanctified (Christ-like), as I’ve recently become a Christian and am trying to find my path through this. I don’t know everything, so that’s why I’m trying to learn more and more what it exactly means to be a Christian.
- To make an impact each and every day. This one is pretty easy I believe I do this anyway but it’s always important to make sure I keep this at the forefront of my mind. This doesn’t have to be life-changing, Superman-type stuff, but something as simple as making someone who's going through hard times laugh is making a small yet tremendous impact.
- To stay consistent in my character and competency every single day. I am just going to try to stay consistent in how I live and why I live.
Owning a private facility I do not get many, if any, who come in and talk about or emphasize wanting to do a New Year's resolution. However, I do see and hear a lot (especially on social media) of talks/jokes/memes about the big box and other gyms that become flooded with a spike of memberships around the New Year's. I personally could care less what someone else does. If it helps someone to get up and moving and kick-starts them into training, all good, so be it.
As for myself, I have never set a New Year's resolution. I have, however, set something else that is much more important: goals.
If a New Year's resolution is what it takes to get you moving, so be it, more power to you. But for me and almost everyone, I run with and know, we will stick to setting and reaching lofty goals.
My immediate New Year’s resolution will take place over the next nine weeks, and that is to put together a training cycle that will allow me to total 1,900+ raw with wraps at The Arnold in the 220 weight class. In short, I plan to do a better job from the nutritional and recovery aspects as well as continue to become a better technical lifter in order to hit PRs in all three lifts, as well as total.
My long-term resolution is to continue to grow my new business, Iron Athlete Sports Performance. I recently sold my half of my previous gym, moved back to northeast Ohio, and opened up a new Sports Performance gym on my own.
I believe that the New Year's resolution is nothing more than goal setting, which is unbelievably important to ensure success in any aspect of life. I have always set specific goals I wanted to achieve, written them down, and bullet-pointed my how-to list of what I need to do to achieve those goals. In the past, this process has always served me well, and hopefully that success continues in 2019!
To live truthfully, violently, and passionately.
Sometimes, you get stuck in a rut, and New Year's is a great time to get the fuck out of it.
Take me, for example: I spent the second half of 2018 stuck in a deep rut, trying to stay in the 181-pound weight class while continuing to get stronger. As it turns out, trying to get stronger on 1,700 calories a day doesn’t work all that well, and instead, I mostly ended up getting injured. But despite all the evidence staring me in the face, I couldn’t allow myself to give up on the goal of 181.
In 2019, that’s changing. Project Big Ben is the name of my 2019 New Year’s resolution: a year of eating big, training big, and doing it all for myself. It sounds simple — but in practice, man, it was hard to commit to that after such a very long time of worrying about being competitive or what other people might think of my training and goals.
There's no reason you can’t take advantage of a fresh start to start making those practices part of your daily life.
Being in the strength and fitness industry I’ve always had a bad taste about resolutions. Many people have fitness, weight loss, and I'm-going-to-start-going-to-the-gym goals for January 1. While that in and of itself is not the problem, I think it's that so many people have a grandeur goal with no roadmap. Fitness goals can be tough and by February 1, many have fallen off.
So to that, I encourage people to start anytime. And most importantly, get help. Find someone that is just as excited about your goals as you are and hire them. Learn. Ask questions. Find what you enjoy. We all know that exercise is good for us. So instead of making a resolution and dreading it, make small changes that enhance who you are and your quality of life.
I hate the whole concept of a New Year's resolution. A very wise man once said, in regards to resolutions, "If it was really important to you, you'd already be working on it!" I think the idea that we need a holiday to take some time to do some self-reflection about things we need to improve on is embarrassing. If someone can't get off their ass and make improvements without New Year's, then they probably won't do it anyway. Eighty percent of New Year's resolutions fail by February (google, 2018). See, it's science.
That being said, one of the biggest things I have been working on and will continue to work on, is being more organized. This goes for training, work, and life. I've never had a problem working on things. My biggest issue is getting distracted and getting off a task I started. Making lists and checking them off is huge for me. Sometimes I feel like Dory! I get started on a great idea, then another great idea comes by and catches my attention, and off we go. So, this year, just like last year I will continue to work on staying focused and checking things off my list. Completing five projects is better than having 50 in the works with none completed!
My resolution is to write 2019 as the date.
I find New Year's resolutions, or goals, rather, to be an interesting concept. They are beneficial to some, but procrastination for many. When we think about goal setting, we can get into the habit of “putting it off” until “X” time or occasion. But in reality, if you want to see significant growth within your goal and yourself as a person, the little wins you achieve today and over time matter.
The choices you make today are significant. Don’t wait until the new year to begin making positive changes in your life. As a society, we get caught up in begin dates and end dates.
We like timelines to measure and days to cross off. However, it is not a special timeline that brings our goal to fruition, it is the small habits we slowly ingrain daily that bring the goal to light. So why are you waiting? Start today.
Here’s some advice. If you’re going to make a New Year’s resolution this year, start with something simple and obtainable that will lead to a snowball effect with more frequent and increasingly difficult goals being achieved down the road. Maybe this year instead of saying, “I’m going to lose 50 pounds,” start by saying, "I’m going to start drinking a gallon of water a day and walking for 30 minutes. And when I do that consistently for 2 or 3 weeks straight, I’m going to plan another goal to add to it."
Remember, you have to walk before you can run.
New Year’s resolutions are absurd to me. Why couldn't Alice or Alex make a positive change in their life in March or August? What makes a person think that a resolution they've made after a night of binge drinking is any more likely to be followed through with than a decision they’ve made on any other day? If you need to make a change in your personal life, work, training or family life, then do it when you know it needs to be done. Don't wait until January 1 to say, "This year I'll be a better husband" or "This year I'll be a better mom." Seize the day and do what you need to do now. Make a change. It's gonna feel real good, gonna make a difference, gonna make it right.
I am not a fan of the New Year’s resolution. I do understand that this might not seem fair because there absolutely are some people who will take advantage of a clean slate and change their health and appearance for the better. However, it shouldn’t take a face-stuffing frenzy from Thanksgiving to Kwanza, to get people to realize they are fat and unhealthy, and that they need to do something out of the ordinary – like exercise and eating healthily – to look good and feel better.
I see the holidays as a time where people tell others what they are going to do with little to no real sense or understanding that they are going to do almost nothing to make it happen. In my experience, most people truly want to believe they are going to make a change, but talk is cheap and they realize after going back to work after the holidays that their life sucks just as bad as it did prior to the holidays and they keep doing the same things they have always done. That usually includes eating like a hog and drinking – the two main things that cause people to be too fat for their clothes.
One of the main misunderstandings about resolutioners is that they fail because they are lazy. This is not true. People fail with their resolutions simply because making the change is not as important as they thought it would be while drinking and eating over the holidays. Everyone wants to be in great shape and healthy, but very few are willing to make the sacrifice to do so.
A new year offers an opportunity to stop and reflect on what you have or haven’t done over the last 12 months. Did you accomplish what you thought you would? Did you develop better habits? Are you happy with what you did over the last 12 months?
Set goals you know are within reach. Instead of saying, “I will add 200 pounds to my total,” say, “I will address my weak abs and triceps.” Instead of “I'll lose 20 pounds,” say, “I'll clean up my diet.” These seemingly small resolutions have the potential to lead to those bigger goals happening.
The year 2018 was a really exciting year for me. One of my goals was to become a team member of elitefts. I wrote a couple of articles, and two of my first were ranked in the top 5! I worked hard and continued to write. I’m now a part of team elitefts, which I’m very proud of.
In 2018, I had more than 100,000 visitors at the homepage seminoff.se, so in 2019, I’m aiming for 200,000. I’m writing articles in Swedish as well and it's fun that so many people visit the homepage to read my articles.
In 2018, I trained and developed two new world champions in powerlifting (2017 I had one). So, for 2019, I hope to train and develop at least three more.
I have set high resolutions or goals for myself, and I usually do.
Your resolutions don't matter. Your vision does. Be clear about it and go after it.
For over 60 years, my New Year's resolution was to lose weight (I was a fat kid). Through the years, I’ve lost weight on a number of occasions, but none of them were as a result of a New Year's resolution. I find that they are too often short-lived, and in time, meaningless. I believe that once you are resolved to do something be it in work, life or powerlifting, then as Nike says, “Just do it.” Don’t wait for a new year or any day in the future, do it now!
I have been all over the place with my training since starting my new job in November. I’ll have a good week where I do everything according to my planned programming, and then I’ll have weeks where I miss training days and end training early by choice or due to being short on time after I finish my primary lift(s) for the day. So I’m going to write everything out on a whiteboard like I did last year leading up to USS nationals and keep track of everything including cardio and conditioning as a way of being more organized and keeping myself more accountable for the work I need to do to continue to progress as an athlete. I need this in order to finish up my shoulder rehab and get past the final movement that I feel limited in, cleans of all types, and feel like I’m back to 100 percent and ready to compete this year. Along those lines, I need to figure out when and where I want to compete, as well as when and where I want to promote a competition.
I don’t really believe in New Year's resolutions, but I do believe in resolutions. New Year's resolutions seem to me to be nothing more than a fad done once a year but only thought about for a couple weeks at best. I do not think there should be a time of year to change or talk about a resolution. I think resolutions should be thought about when they are needed and they should be done with commitment, not based on a silly New Year's theme.
I’m going to make a New Year’s resolution for the very first time. No one is perfect, and we can always make some improvement to an aspect in our life. This is where a New Year’s resolution can be very useful, as you have to take a hard look at yourself and be honest.
For myself, I have owned my business for 12 years now, and I worked my ass off for a good 10 years to get it where it is. However, the last two or so I have gotten lazy with a few things. I’m making a resolution to be more punctual when it comes to showing up at my gym. There’s been plenty of times when I didn’t have an appointment in the morning so I thought why not sleep in? Then, of course, something else happens that needed my attention or a new person shows up expecting me to be there.
My next resolution comes with perfect timing as I am in the process of being the sole owner of Lightning Fitness. Come January 2019, that is finally going to happen: I will have the freedom to do what I want with my business.
I don’t know if this is really a New Year’s resolution, but this coming year, 2019, my goal is to figure out my own brain. What I mean by that is, I’ve always felt like I was behind the curve on everything.
For a long time, I was assessed by school counselors who thought I may have had a learning disability, despite that I always scored extremely high on standardized tests. But it wasn’t until I was an adult that I was told I have pretty severe ADHD. It’s frustrating to go through your adult life wondering if you’re dumb, lazy, or both. This isn’t a cry for help or a pity party, but rather an explanation of the impetus of my 2019 goal.
Basically, I’m taking 2019 to figure out how to train myself and my brain to create new habits so I can be successful in everyday life. That means going to counseling to learn new cognitive skills and figuring out how to keep everyday life interesting enough to not lose focus on important things that seem menial in the grand scheme.
This is the time of year where "resolutions" and "goals" begin to be tossed around. I have my own views on these but want to make sure we are on the same page first.
A resolution is a firm decision to do something. The key words here are "firm decision." Firmly deciding to do something is one of the biggest attributes we have as humans. To decide or cut off the possibility of any other option is a good thing and it’s what drives action instead of the circle of indecision.
A goal is ambition or effort, aim, or desired result. In other words, it’s a resolution without deciding to cut off all other possibilities. Goals use effort and aim; these are personally defined actions based on the person doing work. Unlike a resolution, they are not based on the outcome. Thus goals are great but are not clearly defined, so there is always a way out, excuses, and on the other end, limitations. What if the goal is set too low?
An objective is the ultimate in getting shit done because of several reasons. They are rarely shared, pursued an open mind with conviction. They involve facts, accountability, consistency, and the ability to pivot while still moving forward.
Sure, maybe this is all semantics, but I've always been one to keep my objectives to myself, and they are set far in the future (years), so while there is accountability, it’s all built into the process. For example, in today's powerlifting world, everyone likes to live in 16-week cycles leading to stagnation, or at best, people have no clue what to do when they reach a specific level. Why not look for where you want to be in four years and then stick to the template to get you there when you are ready?
I have mixed feelings on January 1 being a time for things to begin. In business, many indicators are based on annual cycles, and you better have a damn good idea what they are before that first hits because of every week, month, and in some cases, day, matter.
From a personal level, I feel resolutions are essential but don't feel they should be made on a whim without thought because all resolutions will require audible ready actions. If you do have a resolution, give it the seriousness the word is defined as; otherwise, just call it a goal, because in the grand scheme, they don't mean anything.