How we bait and switch ourselves

So it's that time of the year when everyone starts posting about how you should improve yourself for next year with these, "easy steps!"
I think the one I see the most (aside from "workout more", which, let's be serious, isn't going to happen anytime soon.) is to "Pay yourself first." But what does that even mean? Most people intend that to mean, you need to set aside money for retirement. They try to word it in a way where it sounds like a positive thing, but to me it sounds all wrong. And I'm guessing, that to all the people that aren't saving more each year, it doesn't really feel like they are paying themselves first. The reality is, you are paying your future self 20 or 30 years down the road.
If I was really 'Paying myself first' I would probably have a new flat screen TV, monthly spa treatments, and pilot lessons all lined up. So why do people keep telling us to 'pay yourself first'? It sounds like a nice thing but to the person saving it feels like quite the opposite of it.
It's like some terrible bait and switch tactic that you use on yourself to try to fool you into something you know you "should" be doing.
So why do we do it? Why do we set a goal that sounds pleasant when in reality for a lot of people it's going to be hard. Let me set out 2 options for you:
1) This year I'm going to pay myself first.
2) This year I'm going to aggressively save more for retirement.
Now if you heard those two statements from your friends, who would you believe is going to have a better chance of success? I would pick the second one who seems to have put a little more thought in the evaluation of the process. Let's try it again with another scenario:
1) I'm going to go to the gym more this year.
2) I'm going to lose 2 pounds a month this year.
I would pick the second one again because they have thought beyond the idea of losing weight and put a more specific yet attainable goal.
I think that when you try to trick yourself into doing something and it starts to not be as pleasant as you had hoped you are probably more likely to give up. Whereas if you know it's a difficult task you are less likely to throw in the towel and give up once you realize it's not an easy task.
Stop fooling yourself! Think beyond the general ideas of saving more, eating healthier, losing weight. If you think about how you will achieve your goals I think you're more likely to succeed. It's not easy, sometimes you just have to dig down,grit your teeth and bear it.
I must admit, sometimes people can fool themselves into getting things done so the bait and switch tactic works on them. But what do you think? What other common new years resolutions do you think other people (or hopefully not yourself) will fail? Do you think a more thought out goal helps? Or do you think that giving yourself the old bait and switch really works?

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