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The truth that no one admits about New Year’s resolutions

It happens every year.

Right about now, the gyms that were once hopping on Jan 2 are getting quieter and quieter. The brand new yoga pants are spending more time in the closet than in class.  And ice cream sales are back up to their normal rates.

But of course, we know not everyone loses steam on their health goals after the new year.

Some people are on track to running their first 5K.  Others are having a blast exploring new, delicious and healthy meals that their whole family enjoys. And a few are getting up 15 minutes early every morning for some soul-quiet time before they start the day.

What’s the difference between the people who fizzle out early, and those that stay the course to reach their goals?

Is it really all just about willpower?

New Year’s Day can be a great psychological jump start for thinking about what changes you’d like to see in your life. Whether you prefer the term resolutions, intentions, goals, or visions, it’s all ultimately about action and choice.

But here’s the catch that is often overlooked:

It isn’t about  big actions and big choices.

It’s really about thousands of small actions and small choices that make up our days and weeks and months, until the new year rolls around again. Being resolute to change your course and live the life you truly desire doesn’t work if you are only resolute one day of the year.

The trick is finding a way to stay committed daily, weekly, and monthly to your big vision changes. It’s seeing your direction so clearly that you can keep coming back to the path over multitude times of veering ever-so-slightly off.

I’ve worked with hundreds of women this past year and this is what has been true for every single one of them — major change happens when they finally believed that the small choice in front of them was the most important choice.

They stopped seeing simple actions as impotent, and started recognizing the power in elementary things like taking a large glass of water first thing in the morning, or pausing when their stress triggers were engaged, and choosing first to take a few deep and purposeful breaths.

As a health coach, one of the tell-tale signs for me that someone is perpetually stuck in the “big change” mindset is when they tell me that “tomorrow, next week, or this Monday” is when they plan to start their diet.

It is so tempting to start our big changes with a big bang and big fanfare. But the truth is what you are doing right now, this next moment, today, is a much larger prediction to where you will be a year from now.

As you build the habit of making choices that match your vision day in and day out– within the messy, unpredictable, hectic life you lead, that vision becomes your life.  You are living the transformation, not waiting for some magical time in the future when you get “there.”

How to reach your goals with what you’ve got right now:

1.  Identify what you want more of this year.

2.  Consider — what elements of your life (what actions, thoughts, choices, foods, experiences, emotions, moods, or tasks) align most closely with what you want more of?

3.  How could you increase those things, choose them, or prioritize them today? Maybe even right this moment, could you bring something in- a positive thought, a deep breath, a good stretch, a nourishing snack, a wide smile, a prayer of gratitude?

4.  Finally, ask yourself — what supports, skills, education, or growth opportunities could you bring into your life that will keep you on track and equip you for the daily commitment of shifting into a new direction?

If your vision includes living a healthier, lighter, calmer, and happier life, I’d like to invite you to learn more about my upcoming program which is beginning next Saturday, January 29.

Designed for Wellness is a 12 week online, multimedia course for busy moms who are interested in stepping into a whole new level of their health and well being.

While I know this course isn’t for everyone, I’m asking you to check it out to first see if it might be a good fit.

If it is, joining could be the catalyst for a year of tremendous growth and transformation.

And if the course isn’t for you, that one small act of checking it out brought you one step closer to building a habit of action toward prioritizing your health and personal needs.

So the way, I see it, simply checking out the class is really a win/win decision!

A note from Tsh: So I’ve wanted to take Lisa’s class ever since she launched it awhile back — it sounded so good, but well, I’ve never had the time. Perhaps I should say I’ve never made the time. So as part of my 2011 goal of saying NO to all but the unimportant, I’ve decided to take the class this season. I’m absolutely ecstatic to be doing something solely for the purpose of taking care of myself. I’ve needed this. I’ll let you know how it is… Or maybe you need it, too? Then you should join me. We’ll be in Lisa’s class together!

What small action will you do today to bring you closer to goals you set for the new year?

Reading Time:

4 minutes





  1. Lindsay Ferguson

    Agreed! I have fallen into the trap and after a challenging day went back to eating sweets again tonight. These are some good tips and i’m starting to feel like i can get back on track! 🙂

  2. Maryea {Happy Healthy Mama}

    I have my goals written down and I look at them everyday. This helps me do at least one small thing to reach my goals each day. I totally agree that consistent small actions lead to big changes. Thank you for this post.

    • Lisa

      Love keeping your goals within eyeshot everyday– great motivator for sure!

  3. Marilyn

    I’ve found myself apologizing for my small goals, but they are not small in effect.

    I try to do ONE thing each day:

    1) in my HOUSE (not the routine everyday, but something extra) so there’s no call for binge-cleaning when people are coming

    2) for the BOOK that never seems to be done (even if it’s a paragraph)

    3) for SELF-CARE (even if it’s removing nail polish one day and putting new on the next) because it tends to always be last on the list and letting it slip impacts how I feel about me and contributes to a downward spiral.

    These are just three things laid on my heart. Not very spiritual sounding, I know, but the spiritual disciplines are already in place for me and these are three areas of weakness – a readiness for hospitality, faithfulness in my writing, self-care.

    Good post!

    • Lisa


      Just wonderful. I love how you got really specific in three areas of your life and are committed to moving forward every day in small, steady ways toward filling those areas of need.

      Love it. 🙂

  4. Rachel

    How did you know about my yoga pants? *sigh* Maybe I’ll need to check out that class, too.

  5. Alison @ Femita

    Great advice here! What I try to formulate my goals in a positive way, be as specific as possible and divide them into subgoals, so it’s easier to keep track of my progress. Also share your resolutions with your friends and family. Not only can they support you, but they will also be your accountability partners. Just take it step by step. Slow and steady wins the race.

    • Lisa

      Hi Alison,

      Totally agree with your thoughts– and I’d double underscore, BOLD and highlight the formulating your goals in a positive way– so so important! 🙂

  6. karen @ our slo house

    I resolve to start everyday with a green smoothie (o.j., cucumber, kale, parsley, watercress) no matter what. Then, I can worry about snacking on chocolate or doing some cardio later.

    But at least I know that I started the day like a goddess. : )

    • Lisa @ WellGrounded Life

      Yum! I also really focus on a good breakfast…totally sets the stage!

  7. Susie

    I have recently read that your goals should include a plan to get back on track when you slip off the intended path. This helps a lot with food.

  8. Steph at Modern Parents Messy Kids

    I like the idea of the green smoothie (whether or not I’ll like the actual smoothie is another story). I’m going to start being accountable by taking the small step of starting my day off right and trying to build from there. Thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Jane

    One thing I’m determined to do: before I decide to do something decide if it will contribute to my becoming the best version of myself. I will judge an activity not by how I feel at the beginning (ie if I “feel” like doing it) but how it will make me feel in the long run. My goal is to live simply and make my decisions from there.

  10. 26.2 More

    I have committed to and paid entry fees for several running races this year. I don’t want to have just thrown that money away and /or embarrass myself during the race, so that is a great motivator for me.

  11. Megan at SortaCrunchy

    Wow, wow, WOW. So true and so good, Lisa. Thank you so much for this mid-January reminder. I so needed to hear it today!

  12. Adrianne

    I give myself a why. Its easy to set goals but had to follow through sometimes. If I give value to my goals it makes it that much easier to just go ahead and do it even when I dont feel like it.

    Like many I am pushing myself to get in shape. But instead of focusing on the numbers (weight dropping) I am monitoring how my physical fitness changes. After a week (so far) I feel so much more fit than I did when I started. And thats much better than watching 1 or 2 pounds drop each week.

    As for my WHY, I put a reminder timer into my calendar to remind me to get up and exercise. It says -“Exercise – for Isabella, your baby needs you healthy and whole get up and do it take 30 mins!” and thats reinforcement.

  13. Harry @ GoalsOnTrack

    Love this post. It’s really the baby steps that we so often tend to ignore when reaching our goals.

  14. Karen

    I want to tell you the story of my success. I am now a very healthy eater, avid exerciser, yogi, hooper, lover of life. But it wasn’t always that way. I used to be a smoker that was always tired. I constantly gave into junk food and laid on the couch. One day it was enough. That day I vowed to give up soda and drink water. When I stuck with that, I vowed the next month to eat at least 2-3 veggie/fruit servings a day. Then I quit smoking. Next I started exercising.

    Fast forward 6 years later, I am healthy, happy, full of energy. My family eats a 90% whole foods diet and I am training for my first half marathon. I will celebrate my 40th birthday later this year. Life is so good.

    If I had tried to do everything at once, I would have failed. Change little things gave me something doable. It also taught me how to make change and how to rebound when I fell off the wagon. It gave me goals to achieve which gave me hope.

    Little is the only way to go

  15. Andrea

    I’ve stopped making resolutions and instead I have choosen a Word of the Year (momentum) to guide my actions. I’ve set an over-arching goal of creating more harmony in my family, taking very small steps and seeing how the momentum carries us all to achieve our goals. This works for us!

  16. Hannah

    This is great advice and very poignant for me. Thanks Lisa!

  17. Karen

    Totally agree!! Last year I started making resolutions when I needed to make them instead of waiting till the 1st of January. It makes them oh so much more achievable. And, in 2010 I only made ONE resolution, and kept it in its entirety. Now that’s encouraging for future resolutions!

  18. Alicia

    Great reminders. Thanks!

  19. Living the Balanced Life

    I made a goal to get fit and healthy. Not to a specific weight, but to exercise on a regular basis. In November I started getting dressed every morning down to the tennis shoes. I didn’t make myslef exercise at first, just get dressed. After just a day or two, I said just 10 minutes on the treadmill. 10 weeks later, I walk 6 out of 7 days, 35 minutes of high intensity intervals. I have much more stamina, I can climb stairs without being winded, and have energy for the day. I have now started a 20 minute yoga routine 3 to 4 days a week. I have been eating a little more healthy, but that will be my next thing to work towards. Oh, and I have lost 5 pounds!
    Will go check out your blog!

  20. Maryann @ Raise Healthy Eaters

    This is a great post. The real key is making changes as part of your everyday life and personal preferences. Small steps are the only way of getting there. When we make the big, sweeping changes, we miss all the steps along the way that make the change more reflective of who we are (and sustainable). Then when we are not losing weight or seeing results, we stop the behavior because it has nothing to do with who we are. You never know where those small steps will take you!

  21. Kat

    I love this idea! I particularly love that it is about “wellness”- not just one singular focus on weight, or organizing, or…whatever. “Wellness” is the whole package!

    One thing helping me with New Years’ Resolutions is to focus on one per month. So this month I am getting rid of 5 things per day. It has been so helpful to know I’m focusing hard on this one area for one month, and then next month I shift my focus to something else. It helps keep my motivation up!

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