10 Ways To Stick To Your New Year’s Resolutions
“Beginning is easy—Continuing is hard.” -Japanese Proverb
New Year’s resolutions bring around an opportunity to reinvent ourselves for the better, but for most of us, the enthusiasm fades too quickly. Resolutions require a strategy, not just blind willpower. Here are 10 ways to stick to your resolutions without fizzling out too soon:
Set Realistic (Healthy) Goals:
One of the worst things people can do to themselves is set unrealistic goals for themselves. Nutritionists and fitness experts recommend aiming for a maximum of 3-5 pounds weight loss weekly; anything more drastic could put your body into shock.
Instead of setting yourself up for disappointment—or hospitalization—set both long and short-term goals for yourself that help you benchmark your progress and tackle them one at a time in sizable chunks. Resolutions are an opportunity to challenge yourself to be a better you, not intimidate yourself into inaction.
Timing Is Everything:
Are you in a place in your life where making a serious commitment is practical? Don’t cheat yourself out of an opportunity to make a positive change due to unstable circumstances.
For example, starting a new diet and fitness regimen may be highly questionable with your daughter’s wedding two weeks away. If you are navigating through a major transition in your life, you may want to hold off on making the commitment until you are settled enough to give it a shot.
Set Specific Goals:
One of the chief reasons resolutions fail is because they were never clearly defined. “I want to lose weight” is very vague, and it gives you far too many loopholes to make any real change in yourself. How much weight do you want to lose? By when do you want to lose it?
Give yourself firm and clear goals if you want real results.
Write It Down:
Not only does this make you clearly define your resolutions, but it also makes it a visible pledge of your promises to yourself. Post it on the fridge or somewhere you will see it every day to keep it in your mind.
Routine First, Intensity Later:
Although some people may have the willpower to put themselves through bad habit boot camp, the rest of us have a hard time making real changes in our patterns or behavior if they are too drastic.
Think about it. How many times in the past have you resolved to go to the gym at 5am every morning before work to get in better shape, only to hit “Snooze” and nestle further under the covers. For many of us, the contrast between our comfort zone and our goals alone makes it far too daunting to take the first step: get out of bed.
Instead of waking up earlier in the morning and forcing yourself to go to the gym for a rigorous workout, get used to just one change at a time. Try spending a week getting up earlier first. Once your body adjusts to the new schedule, you’ll find it far easier to connect the dots to achieving your primary goal: getting dressed and taking yourself to the gym.
Once you get into the habit of going to the gym every morning, then you can ramp up your workout until you get results. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
Enjoy Change In Order To Embrace It:
If your resolution is a long term goal, it has to be sustainable and rewarding. For example, eating food you hate may get short-term results, but it won’t motivate you to stick with your habit. Of course, your new habit will still require work and will draw you out from your comfort zone, but that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy yourself. Take this opportunity to get creative and find ways to cook healthy things you enjoy or participate in a sport or even a fitness class you really like.
Replace Lost Needs:
Most habits fulfill a purpose of some kind, even if the side effects of that habit are negative. When you give something up that fulfills a need, you have to make sure you find a healthy way to replace it, or you could find yourself resenting your new routine.
For example, spending nights on the couch with your sweetheart may be crucial bonding time to nourish your relationship, but a sedentary bonding activity is ultimately unhealthy for both of you. By contrast, going for a walk together after dinner kills two birds with one stone by enabling you to share both quality time and healthy activity.
Learn From Your Mistakes:
You may have heard Albert Einstein’s quote: “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results”. If you have tried to make a change, but failed in the past, ask yourself what held you back and learn how to better plan for success.
Resolution First, Results Later:
Try not to pay too much attention to the results at first—many experts recommend against “weigh-ins” during the first month of weight loss. Instead, let your resolution do the work before you get discouraged.
Your habits will shape your results if you let them. Focus on the journey, not the results, and most importantly, trust the process.
Especially when you are trying to set a new habit for yourself, reinforcement is key. A habit performed at the same time under the same conditions every day for at least 3 months will become much more ingrained than one that changes throughout the week. Being consistent means you can spend less time reinforcing a habit, and more time enjoying your new life.
By observing the guidelines above, and lending supporting to the habits you’re trying to cultivate, you will very quickly reach the point where these habits actually return the favor, and become the very things that support you on your weight-loss journey. For a successful and rewarding 2013, this is the best trade you can make!