New Years Resolutions are a funny thing. It’s as if we wait all year to make promises to ourselves to be our best selves- to work harder, exercise more often, eat better, drink less- that, let’s be real, do not last long. We should really be making these self-improvement goals every day of our lives, but instead we believe that the start of a new year will bring real change. Wouldn’t it be nice to stay true to your goals without the stress or self-sabotage? Yes, of course it would, but this can be challenging! Here are some tips to help keep you on course with your resolutions and health goals throughout the new year:
Create realistic and specific goals.
People often rush to set their resolution, and even more often want to make a big change in their lives (quit smoking, loose so-and-so many pounds) instead of setting realistic, planned out, step by step goals. When you don’t give yourself enough time to plan out your resolutions, you are not setting yourself up for success. To make a goal truly doable, one needs a thought-out plan of action based on self-reflection and understanding.
Remember learning about SMART goals? SMART goals can be used as a guideline to form top-notch goals. SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. It is important to answer the questions “who, what, where, which, when, why” when planning your goals. Who do you need to surround yourself with to achieve this goal? Is it a gym buddy, or just a friend who can hold you accountable? What do you want to accomplish? Where do you need to be to work towards your goal? Identify a location and establish a time frame in which this goal will take place. Which requirements and restraints will you face? And why are you working toward this goal in the first place? Are the details of the goal realistic? Nailing down the specifics will make it much easier to get what you want. Here is an example to help:
- Specific = I want to get to my optimal weight. I’ll schedule accountability calls with my friend for five minutes every Friday evening.
- Measurable = I will drop 8 lbs in the next six months.
- Attainable = I will accomplish this goal by cutting out soda and all packaged food and by walking for 30 minutes five days/week outside.
- Realistic = This goal is something I can accomplish within the set timeframe.
- Time = Accomplish this six months from today.
Make the necessary preparations.
Once you’ve set your specific game plan, it is now time to take the steps toward success. Depending on your resolution, this could mean emptying the pantry of all processed foods and sugar, or maybe it’s getting your gym membership before your intended start date for your new workout schedule. I can’t stress enough how key it is to find people either with similar goals who you can surround yourself with, or people who will be a good source of support. One of the reasons why people tend to fall short of their goals is because there is no support system in place. It is a lot easier to give up or flake on yourself when you feel you’re working alone. Even scheduling a five minute call once a week with an accountability partner can do the trick.
Do not create resolutions that overly restrict yourself.
This goes back to lesson 1: create realistic goals. It’s nice in theory to think that you can go from eating chocolate every day to never touching it again, but this probably isn’t realistic. If you over restrict yourself this can be a recipe for self-sabotage (think late night ice cream binges) or can just cause disruption with your endocrine system from too much stress. Instead of going overboard and completely depriving yourself, lighten up just a little and create rules like the three-bite rule (only have three bites of sweets a day) or instead of doing cardio five days a week, do cardio for four days and take a relaxing yoga class on the fifth day. Whatever your resolution is, there is likely a way to stay on track without seemingly punishing yourself. And remember, if you mess up, don’t be too hard on yourself! Learn to forgive and start over. Negative self-talk won’t do you any good.
Looking for some extra accountability with your goals from a professional health coach? Sign up for a complimentary 50-minute consultation with me and we can discuss the best ways to help keep you on track!