It’s coming upon a new year. It is when so many people vow to make a commitment to lose weight, start eating healthy, and change other habits that are no longer serving them.
What is your resolution history? Below are some questions that can help you reflect on the past and then suggestions that can help you shape a better New Years resolution.
Have you made New Years resolutions in the past 5 years?
- What resolutions did you make?
- Did you make resolutions related to diet, exercise or other lifestyle changes?
- Were they specific?
- Did you succeed? How did you measure that success?
- How did you keep your self accountable?
- Where were you as far as meeting your goals 1, 2, and 3 months in?
- Why didn’t you make resolutions?
- Have you in the past and they didn’t work?
- What would motivate you to make a commitment this year?
It is a wonderful time to reflect on these questions and look at the patterns. For many people, they realize that they start off the year with either the best of intentions only to fall back into old patterns within the first few months, weeks or even days. Some people are so frustrated with their past failure to commit to their commitments that they just don’t do it. Other are great with their commitments but the limits that they put on themselves are too strict to maintain long term.
A new year is upon us, and I would love nothing more than for you to be able to make the changes that you want to make and live a healthy and more vital life in 2016. There are a number of things that I have found that can help you:
If you have struggled with setting limits on your self that are absolute ("I will NOT eat ANY sugar!") only to sabotage ("Oh honey, where did all the left over holiday treats go?") then that is a sign that you didn’t set yourself up for success. The resolution was a rule that was too restrictive, no fun, and lacked motivation and accountability.
There are some easy steps that I recommend you take when considering your New Years resolutions:
1. Make each one specific.
Don’t resolve to “lose weight” or “get healthy.” These are vague and don’t give your subconscious mind something to grasp onto, or your conscious mind something to get excited about. Be specific such as “I want to slip into this specific dress with ease” or “I will eat 5 servings of vegetables every day.”
2. Make each one have a goal and an action plan.
If you vow to “get 8 hours of sleep every night” that is a wonderful and specific resolution. However, you need an action plan to make it work. Take into consideration what time do you have to get up in the morning, count back 9 hours, giving yourself 30-45 min to wind down and fall asleep and assuring that a trip to the bathroom in the middle of the night doesn’t take away your rest. Then start designing your routine. Picture the goal that you have, such as “feeling rested when I wake up and alert throughout the day.” Setting a goal will motivate you, and having a plan will make it attainable.
3. Give yourself an accountability plan.
Some lucky individuals are great at staying on track and self motivating. If you are one of those people, then you may not need the infrastructure of an accountability partner or group. However, more of us will need external accountability to follow through on the promises that we make to ourselves. Perhaps you can employ a spouse to keep you accountable, making healthy meals together, swapping healthy recipes, or taking an exercise class together. Sometimes larger groups such as a running or hiking group can keep you accountable. It could be a friend that you email once a week with your progress report on what you have been doing to move toward your goals. Build this into your resolution from the beginning and you have a much better chance of staying on track.
4. Reward yourself when you meet your goals.
Sleeping 8 hours, feeling less stressed, or fitting into your favorite old pants may be rewards in and of themselves. But treating yourself once you have hit a goal will reenforce positive changed by giving you a hit of dopamine. Just make sure that these rewards are not sabotaging the work you are putting in. Don’t reward your healthy sleep routine by going out all night. Reward your self with a new set of super soft sheets.
5. Forgive and reset when you don’t meet your goals.
You are human. You will ‘mess up’ or ‘fall off the wagon.’ I urge you not to beat yourself up when you don’t comply with the set of expectations that you have set up. Instead, these are opportunities to reflect on why you made a poor decision and then how to shift your life so that you are not triggered to repeat behavior that is no longer serving you. Forgive yourself and recommit to your goals.