If you're reading this while gasping your way through 5km on the treadmill, or as a way to distract yourself from the mind-numbingly boring bowl of lettuce you're chewing, rest assured that it'll all be over by 2 February – otherwise known as "Fall Off The Wagon Day".
This is according to the location-sharing app Foursquare, which analysed user check-ins and discovered that the first Thursday in February is when the uptick in check-ins at fast food joints meets the downturn in visits to gyms.
So how can we be the anomalies – the ones who buck the trend and actually stick to things? The answer, I think, is related to something we mentioned a few weeks ago: creating systems (or habits) rather than goals. For example, don't aim to lose weight; simply get into the habit of ordering vegetables rather than fries as a side. That way, you're achieving something whenever you order veg – and you won't give up when you realise you haven't lost 50lbs in a week.
When you take this appraoch, you're also more likely to achieve the sorts of goals that goal-oriented people are so desperately aiming for anyway.
We've found that systems/habits are most effective when they have three things going for them:
- They're measurable. For example, "I'll read my book every day for at least ten minutes" – not "I'll read my book as much as I can."
- They're enjoyable (or at least tolerable). If you hate the elliptical, for heaven's sake don't make it your aim to drag yourself onto one five days a week. Find a different exercise instead.
- They get tracked. Once you've done something every day for ten days, you'll do everything in your power not to break the streak.
I use an app called HabitBull to stay on track. One of its many great features is that you can create "x times a week"-esque habits as well as daily habits – which means your "100% success streak" remains intact for habits like "do yoga three times a week".
If you want to sail through February and beyond with your New Year's Resolutions in 2017, perhaps it's time to swap them for more manageable habits instead.
Good luck and HAPPY NEW YEAR!
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