New Year’s resolutions don’t work

What? I know, as a personal trainer, motivational speaker and author, I’m supposed to tell you all about New Year’s resolutions and why they are so great and how to do them properly, right? If you’ve been reading my columns, you know that I’m more interested in being real and telling you the truth. In the case of resolutions, the truth is this: They don’t work. In fact, nothing works.

Have I lost you?

We all know someone, maybe the person in the mirror, who started 2011 with a set of resolutions that did not survive and certainly were not completed. This year I will get fit. This year I will stop smoking. This is the year that I will get a great job, or read a book or whatever. You start, everything is looking good for a week or so, and then it fades away or comes to a screeching halt.


Here’s the kicker: Nothing works. You make it work. This is the biggest truth I can share with you. The thing is for everyone you can think of who has set a resolution and failed, there is a person who set the same resolution and succeeded. Why? Simple, they made it work. Think about it. A car does not work, you make it work. If you say to all of your friends out loud, and maybe even write it down and post it on the fridge “This year my resolution is to drive to Florida”. Then a week goes by and the weather is bad. Then a month, then six months. Maybe you pack your stuff and go sit in your car, but you never put the key in and start it, or you drive a few blocks and get a flat tire and decide to try again tomorrow. A million different things can happen to stop you from starting or finishing your resolutions. The thing is you have to make your resolutions work! They don’t work on their own, and it certainly won’t be easy or else it wouldn’t be worthy of a resolution.

So how do you make your resolutions work?

First off, as I have talked about with you before, the reason why you want something is way more important than what or how you go about it. To read more on ‘why’ – look up ‘Motivating your inner elephant’ on the Red Deer Express web site.

Once you’ve found something that you really understand ‘why’ you want it, the next step is to really find a way to set yourself up to win. Depending on your goals, you may need intermediate steps so that you get little victories along the way.

Set your goal, and make it SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time sensitive). So instead of “In 2012 I will get fit”, change to “By May 1, 2012, I will have dropped 20 pounds of fat and be able to perform 20 push ups and 40 burpees.”

Another example is instead of “This year I will quit smoking”, try “By February 1, I will meet with my doctor to decide on and buy the best stop smoking aid I can. Then by April 1, I will have a calendar that shows at least 20 days of being smoke free”. You can go more aggressive than that, and you can add more steps to the goal.

Write down the top five things that will stop you or challenge your goal. Then decide on how you are going to overcome those challenges.

Remember, no matter what, you are going to have to make this work. When I signed up for Ultraman Canada, a grueling three-day race, that set the date in stone and I paid a hefty entry fee that is non refundable. I trained 20 to 30 hours a week, every week, for nine months. I ran in -30 degrees, I rode my bike for 10 hours in the pouring rain, I swam in the lake for up to three hours starting at six in the morning with the water making my face, feet and hands numb. Nothing about my goal worked, I had to make it work, every day, every workout. Life tried to get in my way every single day, and every day I had to find a way to make it work. Sometimes I failed, but the next day, I pressed on with my next workout. You have to do the same thing. Look up the article called ‘The ultimate success formula’ and this year, make your resolutions work.

Scott McDermott is a personal trainer and owner of Best Body Fitness in Sylvan Lake. He can be reached at 403-887-7667 or check out for more information.