Resolutions at the new year are bad you. I do not like making new year’s resolutions, and I advise against them for anybody that bothers to ask me. This is not to say that the end of the year is a bad time to plan the upcoming year; I just mean to say that making a resolution at the end or beginning of the year is doomed to failure, especially if the resolution is related to fitness. They are a bad idea, and I recommend avoiding making resolutions and instead just make changes in your life. There are three major reasons that I do not like resolutions.

  1. They encourage procrastination.
  2. The weather is demotivating.
  3. The weather can be dangerous.

If you find that there is something that you do not like about yourself, why would you wait until January to effect the change? Why not just act at the moment that you realise that something is not the way that you like it? Saying that you will wait and make it a resolution for the new year is just one more excuse to put off effecting the change in your life. Once January rolls around, you then assume that you have an entire year to make that change, and you keep putting it off until it becames the next year’s resolution. Always doing the same thing but expecting different results is madness.

What if it is around the time of the new year when you look at your life to decide what you want to change? Shouldn’t that be a good time to start on your new goals? I don’t think so. Besides the reasons below, you should be reassessing yourself more often than once per year. You need to find out what works and what does not work all year round; don’t just wait for the new year.

One problem, especially if you live up north, is that the weather can be demotivating at this time of year. The days are short, it is often dark out, and if you work in a windowless room in the middle of a building like I do there may be days where you do not even get to see the sun because it is dark when you arrive at work and dark when you leave. This can be very demotivating and help you prevent yourself from doing anything new or anything at all.

Season depression is such a prevelant problem that they even came up with a funny name and acronym for it. They call it SAD, seasonal affective disorder. Very clever, eh? But my point is that trying to make a lifestyle change when you are depressed means that your change is less likely to take root in your life. Rather than a positive experience, you are still going to be depressed for completely unrelated reasons and you will quit. Having quit, you will think that you will never be able to accomplish anything and any attempts at self development go right down the drain.

Making a financial resolution may not be particularly dangerous, but any sort of fitness resolution is liable to be dangerous at this time of year in the northern hemisphere. The weather tends to be a little less than ideal for working out outside. For the inexperienced, you will need to quickly learn how to properly clothe yourself, how to run in different elements, how to make yourself visible, and how to properly warm up before working your muscles to keep from pulling something. While those issues still apply in warmer weather, the consequences tend to be a little easier to deal with if you are not as diligent about picking up the tricks of the trade right away. Getting hit by a car, suffering frost bite, and slipping on some ice are not the most enjoyable ways to spend your time.

If you are going to make a fitness resolution, and you do not want to act on it whenever you happen to think of it, then aim for the Spring or Autumn. In the Spring, the weather is constantly improving, it gets warmer every day, and the days get longer each week. It is very motivating to get outside and enjoy life as it comes back out of hibernation. In the Autumn, it is usually ideal conditions for any sort of outdoor activity.

When I say that New Year’s resolutions are bad for you, I am not talking about planning your training or deciding what races to run in the upcoming year. I am talking about resolving to make sweeping changes to your lifestyle that you are likely to have forgotten about within a few months, weeks, or even days. Instead, you should take a look at your life on a regular basis and make improvements as you go along. Incremental changes are much more likely to stick with you anyway.

So on that note, Happy New Year. I am looking forward to 2007.

One reason I dislike the gym in January is that it is always crowded with people who will not be there in a month or two.