By Lindsey Joe, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist

Picture this: it’s time for your annual doctor visit. You’re not thrilled, but you know it’s a necessary evil. So you keep your appointment.

At your visit, the doctor pops in to say that she's concerned about your elevated blood sugar levels and increased weight since last year. The doctor asks if you’ve been eating right and exercising, per usual, and you quickly reply, “Yeah, yeah...I know what I should be doing, Doc.”

As you head out, you’re feeling disappointed in yourself and decide to get serious about making some changes. A week later, you get a follow-up call with some lab results, and the doctor asks if you’ve made any changes yet. And it hits you—you haven’t done a single thing.

If you can relate to this scenario, you’re certainly not alone. It’s estimated that a staggering 92% of people who set New Year’s resolutions don’t ever achieve their goal. And while there are many reasons why people aren’t successful, few are as damaging as this excuse: “I know what to do, but I just haven’t done it.”

Here’s how you overcome this common roadblock and start seeing your goals come true.

How to overcome “I know what to do”

1. Acknowledge your excuses.

They say the first step towards change is awareness. So, it’s essential to recognize that “I know what to do” or “I know I should _____” isn’t working. In fact, they are both versions of a negative thought. Remember, negative thinking sets us up for disappointment, leads to anger and resentment, causes us to lose hope, and ultimately stands in the way of the progress we so badly desire. Notice your excuses and negative thoughts.

2. Talk back.

The most powerful antidote for negative thoughts is to counter them with positive thoughts. Take the power away from them. Try, “It is hard to change old habits, but I can give it a go and see how it works,” or, “I’m in charge of my eating and activity. It’s my choice.” By talking back to negative or discouraging thoughts, we can overcome them when we make mistakes (and we will!).

3. Set a SMART goal.

Thinking “I know what to do” in a general, vague sense means next-to-nothing. Make a plan. The best goals that propel you forward are SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time sensitive. (Think of it as the what, when, where, why, and HOW of setting a goal.) Really consider all your options versus pigeon-holing yourself into a strategy that you feel “should work” for you. After you craft yourself a SMART goal, you’re sure to start taking positive actions and seeing success!

Remember, no one is perfect, and no one practices healthy habits 24/7. But, you can get out of your own way and start over any time you want—even right now!

Establish healthy habits with the Y

Read more of our expert advice on positive thinking and overcoming obstacles to healthy living. Ready for a healthier eating approach? Get started with a YMCA membership. Let us partner with you in reaching your healthy living goals.