It's the most wonderful time of the year! It's finally acceptable to listen to the Christmas music I've been listening to since August. Which means it's almost time for gyms to be filled with all the ‘New Year’s Resolutioners’. As someone who goes to the gym religiously, this time of year is bittersweet. Part of me wants to roll my eyes at the lack of parking spaces and stairs taken by people who most likely won't be at the gym come Valentine’s Day. The other part of me is always so inspired to see SO many people wanting to get active and reach their fitness goals. But why do a lot of people fall off the wagon after a couple months? Here are 8 secrets to making your resolutions last (this is applicable to ANY GOAL not just New Year's Resolutions!!):
1. Reflect on last year's behavior and decide what you want to change
Tip: Start SMALL. In order to change a habit, you have to change the way you think. Choose a resolution where you can focus on new thought processes and new behaviors instead of a resolution focused on trying NOT to do something. Instead of “don’t stop at all when running a 5k” change it to “run a 5k at an even, consistent pace”. With rewording it, you’re directing your focus from NOT stopping to simply running at a consistent pace; the same message is portrayed just in a different connotation
2. Have a game plan
Turn your resolution into a SMART goal
Be SPECIFIC: Instead of saying “I want to lose weight”, say how much weight you want to lose, i.e. “I want to lose 12 pounds”
Make it MEASURABLE: How are you going to know if you reached that goal? If your goal is “to lose weight”, that could range anywhere from 1 pound to 50 pounds. With a set number to work towards, you can measure your progress along the way. Whether it is inches, pounds, pant sizes- if you are able to periodically measure progress you are less likely to get discouraged.
Is it ATTAINABLE: Does your resolution line up with your internal view of yourself? You may need to sit down and have a come to Jesus moment, but reflect on your actions honestly- is this reasonable? Is this resolution manageable with my lifestyle that I currently have?
Are you being REALISTIC: It is GREAT to set daring goals, don’t get me wrong. But if your goal is dramatically different from how you’re living your day to day life, it may be unrealistic. Drastic goals call for drastic changes.
Make it TIME oriented: It is easy to think “oh I’ll get around to it”, when you have all year to reach your resolution. Set multiple milestones you want to reach throughout the year. Check in with yourself (or your support system…read #3) weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly. Write down these dates and times to set them in stone
3. Create a reliable support system
Share your goals with someone close to you that you trust. Whether it be a parent, family member, boyfriend/girlfriend, or someone you look up to. Having someone to lean on through the tough times when you may feel discouraged makes a world of difference.
4. Factor extra time into your routine
There is something you want to change. Great. This change would’ve happened already if you set time aside each day to focus on this change. So factor in a window in each day where you can work on your resolution – whether it be stretching more, meal prepping, reading a book. We all know how quickly time seems to fly by. It’s incredible how we can get so caught up in day to day tasks and responsibilities that life just seems to pass by. Be mindful and present each and every day. Think about what you can do here and now to work towards your resolutions.
5. It's a marathon, not a sprint
I’ll go out on a limb and say a majority of New Year’s Resolutions don’t last because people don’t see results instantly. It would be really nice if we could just eat well 30% of the time, work out 2 or 3 times and BAM have our dream and reap all the benefits of eating healthy. But not only does it not work that way (unfortunately) but that takes away any sense of fulfillment and self-gratification. Think about how you would feel if you were given a material item that you REALLY wanted vs. if you worked tirelessly, budgeted, and sacrificed until you could buy it on your own. The pride, satisfaction and sense of achievement is lost when something is given and not earned.
6. Find a way to enjoy the process
If you want to clean up your diet in the new year but think the only way to do so is by eating salads everyday (not true by the way), you aren’t going to enjoy it. It’s going to be miserable and hard and you’re going to miss your favorite foods and other junk foods that you didn’t know you even liked. Find a path to your goal that is enjoyable and manageable for YOU.
7. Know your WHY
If you decided on a resolution, then you know what you want to change. But why do you want to make that change? Having deeply rooted reasoning behind wanting to make a change will significantly improve your chances of sticking to your resolution. Knowing your WHY is crucial in setting goals, and I talk more about that in one of my other blogs HERE.
8. Be kind to yourself
At the end of the day, life happens. Every day is not going to go as planned. Know that some days will be easier and more successful than others. But don’t mentally beat yourself up if you mess up here and there. It happens; imperfection is inevitable because we are only human. What’s more important is how you decide to react to your errors. You can let a small slip-up consume you, fill your head with nitpicking thoughts, influence your behaviors, and cause you to throw in the towel. Or you can view the failure as a “learning the hard way” type of a moment, accept that you can’t change what happened, know that now you can avoid future downfalls, and continue to make your resolutions a reality.