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27: A Different Take on Resolutions

Jan 07, 2020

Statistically, 80% of us will fail our resolution by February 1st. So why not win with a different strategy? Listener Jay shares how he chooses to win in the moment rather than make big resolutions. Also, a chance to win an at-home genetics test.

Episode Transcript

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80% of People Fail Their New Year's Resolution

Most resolutions seem to revolve around getting "fit." Whether you resolve to go to the gym more, lose weight, start dieting, etc. But resolutions that require a sudden and drastic lifestyle change seem impossible to accomplish, and there's a good reason for that.

According to a US News and World Report, 80 percent of people fail their New Year's resolution by the second week in February. The study explains that the high rates of failure are due to the approach people make to changing their habits. Most people try to change their daily activities and habits through sheer willpower, rather than work to change their attitudes and motivation. Any big lifestyle change is stressful. Without committing to changing your mindset, activities like going to the gym and changing how you eat can be near impossible.

Meanwhile, Troy doesn't do New Year resolutions because he feels their so cliche. He personally doesn't believe in the attitude of going from zero to sixty with any changes. He feels that the idea that things will suddenly change on January 1st is crazy. He instead prefers to take a more methodical approach to his lifestyle changes. After realizing he wants to make a change, Troy commits to sticking with a new habit for 30 days to try and make it a habit. He then reevaluates his goals and behaviors, adjusting as necessary.

And Scot doesn't like making resolutions because of the pressure and stakes that seem to come with it. "It just feels like ‘resolution' is a big word. Dramatic. If you fail, oh boy, you're a big fat failure."

With all that in mind, Scot and Troy have been looking for a new take on New Year's Resolution.

Listener Jay Failed All of His Resolutions

Listener Jay is a self-proclaimed IT nerd from the Salt Lake Valley. He no longer makes New Year's Resolutions. He used to make the same sort of resolutions for the same reasons that most people do, but he feels that they are ultimately doomed to fail.

A person may see something in themselves that they would like to change, but they don't know how to actually make the change in themselves. So they go through an intellectual exercise of identifying and doing the activities they believe will make that change (often incorrectly).

For example, someone who wants to "get in shape" may start pushing themselves to go to the gym for an hour a day. They intellectualize that fit people go to the gym, so they do that.

But doing just the activity itself didn't impact Jay in a life changing way. He didn't like doing the activities he would resolve to do. His success rate was miserable:

"On the resolutions themselves? On those particular days, I'd venture zero percent," says Jay.

A man can only take so much failure, so eventually he stopped making yearly resolutions.

It's Easier to Quit Activities than Goals

Jay feels his failure wasn't caused merely bad luck, nor was it due to a lack of commitment. Instead, he believes it had more to do with his mindset.

"I intellectually want something to change," says Jay, "but I don't emotionally want to change. I see a version of myself that is different than the version I currently am. That I want to be. But when it came down to it, when you're talking about the actual activities I was doing. If those activities got hard or tiresome, it was easy to quit."

Because Jay had not yet emotionally connected to the goal he wanted to achieve, he would go to the gym until it got hard, then he would go back to the way he was before.

For Jay, to successfully change himself, he needs to connect to a goal on an emotional level. Once that happens, quitting a goal you have feelings about is a significantly more difficult than quitting activities that are difficult to do in the first place.

Learn to Win in the Moment

Jay doesn't feel resolutions are all bad.

"It's important to review who we are, and who we want to be. It should be perpetual, but a new year's resolution can be a great way to remind you to evaluate where you are in your life."

But just because January 1st comes around and you make a resolution, doesn't mean you have the emotional resolve in your life to commit to that resolution. Tying a resolution to a date makes it extremely easy to fail. You start once. Try once. If you have any setbacks you have to wait another year to the next new year.

Jay started his most successful lifestyle change at what would seem like the most difficult time. Jay's family is all about food around the holidays. There are always lots of sweets and tons of food readily available all day long. All the socializing revolves around food. While visiting his family he would overeat until he felt terrible but felt it was okay because it's the holiday.

He always would go home feeling bad about the food choices he made. It was as if he had to "get back on track" after spending the holiday with the family. As if all that rich holiday food was an inevitable set-back he had to endure each year.

So on one recent Christmas - while staring at decadent buffet at a cabin with his family - a thought struck Jay:

"These are not the choices I want to make for my health," he thought.

It dawned on him that the goals he wanted in his life, like a healthy weight, was emotionally important to him. He found he had a distinct visceral reaction to overeating. So he chose to pass up on the sweet and rich foods.

Jay actually lost weight over the holiday by keeping focus on the goal he had a connection to.

Jay believes that the best way to make big life changes is to find the moments when you have an emotional investment into what you want to do. When your gut tells you something needs to change. Seize that moment and commit to it right then, rather than waiting for a magical time like the New Year.

Jay suggests a few positive strategies he uses when he finds himself slipping into his old bad habits—ask yourself:

  • "How can I win the moment?"
  • "The thing that I want now, is different than the thing I wanted before. And I'm going to hold onto that sense of victory."
  • "Wake up and say "Who was I yesterday, who do I want to be today and what can I change today? If it's something that hits you emotionally it's something you'll really work on."

The Fear of At Home Genetics Tests

Scot has a philosophy of presents: never give someone something they'll have to take care of. This includes books, plants, animals. Don't give people a responsibility.

In spite of this philosophy, he received a pair of at home genetics kits over the holidays. He doesn't know if he wants to take it with all the responsibility that is involved with knowing your genetic health information. So he's trying to find someone to take the second kit off his hands.

Troy doesn't want to take the kit. He's unsure about at home genetics testing. He doesn't want to know what genetic diseases he may be predisposed towards. He'd rather avoid the stress and the impact that knowledge may have on his life.

On the flip side, producer Mitch has already had his genetics tested and feels the test was no big deal. He wanted to know all his health information. He actually appreciates knowing his genetic predisposition for different diseases. For him, knowing at age 30 lets him work towards prevention of the diseases. He feels the test results gives him a sense of control over his health.

After hearing both sides, Scot is still on the fence and has a lot of questions about the DNA testing kit, but he doesn't want to do it alone. He's going to give the second one away to a listener.

If you're interested in knowing your DNA or engaging with the results, go to our website or facebook, take a short 5 question survey to be entered to win your very own DNA kit.


It's a brand new season for 2020. This season we're looking to incorporate more of our listeners' perspectives We want to hear from you, so don't be afraid to reach out to talk about your health.

Quick update on producer Mitch's Bell's Palsy. After a stroke scare that turned out to be Bell's Palsy, Mitch has been approached by listeners in public asking about his drooping face. After a month or two of face crippling symptoms, Mitch has full function back of his face. The only remaining signs are that his smile is still a little lopsided and he can't sarcastically roll his eyes like he used to.

Even though bell's palsy is caused by nothing he did, it did give him a scare about his lifestyle and the potential consequences he may face down the road. He has a new appreciation for his health and now considers this scare his turning point.

Just Going to Leave This Here

On this episode's Just Going to Leave This Here, Scot has a man named Crazy in his backyard digging a trench and Troy recently visited Machu Picchu.

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