It can be daunting when your list of New Year’s Resolutions is as long as your holiday shopping list. In addition to the post-holiday slump, not being able to keep your resolutions by February, March or even late January may increase your anxiety. When your holiday decorations are packed up and stored away, the frustration of an unused gym membership or other reminders of failed resolutions can make the later winter months feel hopeless.
However, it is important to remember that the New Year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes. “Setting small, attainable goals throughout the year, instead of a singular, overwhelming goal on January 1 can help you reach whatever it is you strive for,” says psychologist Lynn Bufka, PhD. “Remember, it is not the extent of the change that matters, but rather the act of recognizing that lifestyle change is important and working toward it, one step at a time.”
By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into your everyday life.
So, what’s the secret to successful resolutions?
While you can’t wave a magic wand and make your resolution come true, there are some easy steps to take to make it easier to fulfill your promise to yourself.
Choose an obtainable goal.
Resolving to look like a super model is not realistic for the majority of us, but promising to include daily physical activity in our lives is very possible.
Avoid choosing a resolution that you’ve been unsuccessful at achieving year after year. This will only set you up for failure, frustration and disappointment. If you are still tempted to make a promise that you’ve made before, then try altering it. For example, instead of stating that you are going to lose 30 pounds, try promising to eat healthier and increase your weekly exercise.
Create a game plan.
At the beginning of January, write a comprehensive plan. All successful businesses start with a business plan that describes their mission and specifics on how they will achieve it. Write your own personal plan and you’ll be more likely to succeed as well.
Break it down to make it less intimidating.
Rather than one BIG end goal, dissect it into smaller pieces. Set several smaller goals to achieve throughout the year that will help you to reach the ultimate goal. Then even if you aren’t able to reach your final goal, you will have many smaller, but still significant, achievements along the way. For example, if your goal is to complete a 10K race, your smaller goals could be running a 5K in less than 30 minutes, adding upper and lower body strength training to increase your muscular endurance, and running 2 miles with a personal best completion time.
Don’t do it alone!
Ask friends and family members to help you so you have someone to be accountable to. Just be sure to set limits so that this doesn’t backfire and become more irritating than helpful. For example, if you resolve to be more positive ask them to gently remind you when you start talking negatively. Reward yourself with each milestone. If you’ve stuck with your resolution for 2 months, treat yourself to something special. But, be careful of your reward type. If you’ve lost 5 pounds, don’t give yourself a piece of cake as an award. Instead, treat yourself to a something non-food related, like a professional massage.
Limit your number of promises.
You’ll spread yourself too thin trying to make multiple changes in your life. This will just lead to failure of all of the resolutions.
Don’t let statistics get you down.
On average only about 20% of us keep our New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, some of the biggest failures are found in fitness resolutions. But don’t let the statistics get you down. By following the tips above you’ll be better equipped to fall into the successful 20% category.