These days we tend to have a very “make-it-and-break-it” attitude toward resolutions–but wouldn’t it be nice if we could actually stick with it and accomplish the goals we set?
It has almost been a month since New Years day and some of you may have already fallen off the resolution bandwagon; or maybe you are about to accomplish an entire month of doing whatever it is you set out to do this year. Either way, tomorrow is another day and as long as the sun keeps rising and setting you will continue to have the opportunity for self-improvement.
Here are five simple tips that can help you stick with it and get back on track when life gets in the way of your New Years resolution.
Be realistic:This is the simplest tip. When January 1st rolls around we all have huge aspirations. The sky is the limit…until January second…or third..then you start to think “maybe I was being a little overly ambitious”. If you haven’t worked out in an entire year don’t try to force yourself to be at the gym at 5:00 a.m. seven days a week. Set smaller goals that you are more likely to keep. If it’s a fitness related goal, start out by taking a walk three times a week and see how you do. If you want to quit smoking, try cutting back to half a pack a day instead of a whole pack. You get the picture. Even accomplishing small goals feels good, and it feels way better than setting unrealistic goals and feeling like you failed when you can’t stick with it.
Treat Every Monday as if it’s New Years Day:Sometimes life gets in the way. Let’s say you fall off the bandwagon after a few weeks, or have a super busy week at work and just can’t stick with your resolution. Don’t beat yourself up and call yourself a failure. Simply start over each week and readjust your goals, if needed, to something that is more attainable. There are 52.18 weeks in a year. When I ran the NYC Marathon in my head I told myself, “All I have to do is run 7 miles, then 6 miles, then 5 miles, then 4, 3, then 1.2″! To me that seemed much more doable than focusing on running 26.2 miles. Doing something for 7 days seems much easier than doing it for 365 days, so break it down and take it week by week.
Remove the Word Failure From Your Vocabulary:Failure is actually a learning opportunity. If you slip up, look at what preceded the event. If your goal was to stop smoking and you give in and have a puff, look at what happened that led to that behavior and find ways to prevent it in the future. Did something stress you out? Was it being around a certain person? Take note of these things and set up precautions from now on to prepare yourself for those situations. To tell yourself “you failed” creates all kinds of emotions, but to think to yourself “Ok now I know how to keep this from happening next time” shows that you just learned from your mistake and became stronger because of it…now “failure” doesn’t sound so bad, right?
Set Goals With a Friend:Having someone to hold you accountable is always helpful. Who will know if you don’t get out of bed for your workout? Who will be there to show disappointment when you give-in to the urge to smoke? If you have somebody depending on you, it will be more difficult to ignore your goals. If your goal is something like being more organized or saving money and you don’t really need a buddy, be sure to tell your friends and family about your goals. Telling others about our plans gives us all the more reason to stay accountable and succeed. Even using social media, like Facebook and Twitter, can help hold you accountable. So whether it be with social media strangers or family and friends…share your goals!
Be specific:“This year I am going to start working out” is a pretty general goal. Set a goal like running a 5K or 10K race. Signing up for the race holds you accountable. All the work that goes into training probably meets the actual fitness goals you had in mind, and you can’t beat that feeling of accomplishment when you cross that finish line. Even if it’s not a fitness goal set up your goal so that you have tangible results.
Ok, I know I only said I was going to give you 5 tips but here is one last suggestion: Get yourself out of the way! If your goal involves dieting, don’t leave all that junk food and ice cream in your house. Throw it out! Taking steps like this will make it easier for you to succeed. Don’t try to rely on pure willpower. We are only human and sometimes it’s hard to resist temptation. Again, if you do slip up it’s not the end of the world…just start over the next day!
“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other”. -Abraham Lincoln