Be Specific and Realistic
With the holiday parties and indulgences behind us, we find ourselves committed to making New Year’s resolutions. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting started on your goals, keep reading for advice that will help set you up for success. According to Statista, 41% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions each January, but only 8% of us actually keep them. Why is that? One of the biggest reasons people fail to keep their New Year’s resolutions is because they’re not specific enough. It is easier to drop the goal or walk away when you set goals that are vague. For example, resolving to “lose weight” is an easy way to set yourself up for failure, as the goal lacks ways to mark progress and unlikely to keep you motivated throughout the year. Instead, aim for a specific goal, like losing 10 pounds by a specific date. A timeline on the goal/resolution is helpful in letting you know that you are on track to achieving your goal.
Make resolutions that you think you will be able to keep. For example, if your aim is to exercise more, try to schedule three days of exercise instead of scheduling daily blocks. You don’t have to focus solely on going to the gym. Consider taking walks during breaks at work or join an organized sport or take a class. If your goal is to eat healthier, focus on adding healthier options to your diet instead of cutting out your favorite foods. Healthier options, such as almonds or a piece of fruit will limit your junk food intake and won’t seem as torturous.
Change one behavior at a time
Change is a process. Those unhealthy habits that you are trying to change more than likely took years to develop so establishing new behavioral patterns takes time. While you may have a list of resolutions, pick one to focus your energies on rather than spreading yourself too thin. Remember that once you have made the commitment to change a behavior, it is not a race to the finish. This will be a behavior that you will continue to work on for the rest of your life so stay calm, breathe, and focus on one behavior at a time. This will help keep a resolution much more achievable.
A solid support system, whether it be friends, family, or co-workers can help you stay motivated. Join a group (virtual or non-virtual) that shares your goal. Groups with the same goals can offer strategies on how to stay on task, adjust your goals, and help address emotional issues. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes the journey easier and less intimidating.
Start a Health Journal
Tracking your progress in a dedicated journal can also help you stay on task and help manage or adjust goals. Consider keeping track of bedtimes, energy levels throughout the day, and how much water you’re drinking. This will allow you to gauge how much sleep you will need and keep track of fatigue. It is helpful to take note of how many hours you slept the night before, what you had to eat or any activities you took part in and this activity will illuminate patterns that can be reducing your energy levels.
Celebrate your success by treating yourself to something that you enjoy that does not conflict with your resolution. For example, if your resolution is to increase your daily vegetable intake, then treating yourself to an entire box of chocolates contradicts eating healthier. Instead, reward yourself with fitness clothing or going to a movie with a friend.
Always focus on the benefits of your resolution to keep you motivated. Remember, there will be some rough times, but there is something incredibly inspiring and motivating about a fresh start.