It is human nature to look at the New Year as a chance for a fresh start. Most of us have all had the internal dialogue that come January 1, we will toss our bad habits out the window and become the healthier, more productive person we know we can be. While ambition is great and a positive attitude is an excellent motivator, the reality is that most people will abandon their intended resolutions by March. Here are some steps you can take to stay on track and achieve your goals.
- Make very specific goals. Vague statements such as “I will lose weight in the New Year” or “I will be more dedicated to eating healthy this year” can set yourself up for failure. It is hard to be motivated or focused on a goal when you’re not really sure what the goal is. Assertions like “I will lose 8 pounds by March 1” and “I will eat vegetables at dinner 5 out of 7 nights” make you much more accountable. Think about the precise adjustments you want to make in your life. Then consider the steps you will need to take to make them a reality.
- Break down your goals into manageable successes. This is a jumping off point from Step 1. Along with specific goals, you want your achievements to be attainable. If you make a commitment to get back into the gym, do not make a plan to go 7 days a week. It is nearly impossible for most people to exercise every day of the week. By setting the bar at an unreachable height, you are destined to fail from the word go. Look at your daily schedule and plan a workout regimen that fits into your lifestyle.The same holds true for weight loss goals. Set realistic, bi-weekly targets. Realize that some weeks will be better than others. Keep your eye on the next goal and allow for some mis-steps along the way.
- Reframe your thinking. Many of us look at exercise as the enemy. It is seen as challenging and intimidating and often the last thing you want to do. All of these negative thoughts make it very hard to have a positive attitude about working out. By tweaking our thinking and perspective on exercise, we create an energy shift that is extremely motivating. Start by thinking “The exercise I am doing right now is 100% more than I did last week.” Try smiling while you are on the treadmill or elliptical machine. Give yourself a mental pat on the back when you are ¼, ½ and ¾ of the way through your cardio workout. Look at your exercise time as pampering yourself. You are taking steps to better yourself. What can be negative about that?
- Be honest with yourself. This is an extremely important step to consider. How badly do you want to change? Are your goals in line with the shift you are looking to make in your life? The saying ‘Nothing in this world worth having comes easy’ holds true in this instance. If you aren’t willing to commit to honestly evaluating your choices and habits and fixing the things that are hindering your success, you will ultimately fail. Review your resolutions with a candid eye and be truthful with yourself about your desire to change.
- Write down your goals. Make a list your goals. Visual motivators work extremely well. Set your list as your screen saver on your phone and computer. Tape it to the fridge. Find images and motivational quotes that inspire you and print them out. Also consider downloading an app that tracks your progress. MyFitnessPal, Amwell, Fitness Buddy and Fitocracy are all good options. Charting your workouts and weight loss help you to see the progress you are making.
- Tell people your goals. Have a conversation with your close friends and family members about your plans for positive change. The support of those in your inner circle is crucial to achieving personal success. It also makes you accountable. You will think twice about reaching for a cookie or skipping a workout if your spouse and children are on board with your resolutions. Your goals may also act as motivators for those around you. Having a partner to exercise and meal plan with can help you stay on track and keep you encouraged to continue your regimen.
- Plan ahead. Do some research into food and exercise programs that appeal to your lifestyle. Consider any food or physical restrictions you may have before committing to a program. Consult your physician with any questions or concerns before making significant changes to your diet or workout routines. Having healthy foods in your home and a realistic exercise schedule set up before January 1 will help pave the way to your success. *A fun tip- Update your playlist with new, upbeat songs to keep you motivated during your workouts.
- Be resilient. Expect that some days and weeks will bring more accomplishments than others. Life is hectic and unexpected stressors can easily derail you from achieving your goals. By recognizing and accepting that the journey you are embarking on is a marathon and not a sprint, you will put yourself in a much more positive frame of mind. Take your setbacks in stride and celebrate your accomplishments.
Statistics show that on average, 8% of people who make resolutions actually reach them. Use the tips above to stick to your plan and make it one of your goals to be in that 8%. Happy New Year!