Revisit Your New Year’s Resolutions
Ah… a New Year. A time to reflect on life so far and resolve that this will be the year for the new and improved you! Or, if you are like most of us, it's February and you are already bummed out that your New Year's resolutions have slipped to the wayside.
Don't despair. It's never too late to bring positive change into your life. Some methods of bringing change work better than others. Revisit your goals with these tips in mind:
Set a Specific Goal
Many motivational experts believe that making a list of non-specific resolutions only sets us up for failure. They suggest that we will have more success if we approach resolutions with a specific goal in mind. For example, rather than resolving to "get healthy", you might choose "run a 5K this spring". Instead of "lose weight", you might list realistic steps to "eat healthier".
Meeting a goal requires a series of steps to get there. Outlining the steps to get to your goal makes progress easier to monitor. And working in some rewards to yourself along the way, can't hurt either!
Take the "run a 5K" goal -- write down very specific steps and check them off as you achieve them; such as:
- Step One: talk to my doctor about my health and ability to do this
- Step Two: put a 5K training app on my phone
- Step Three: schedule all training times in my calendar and select a Start Day
- Step Four: when I've trained for two weeks, buy new running shoes!
Or these suggestions for easily attainable steps to healthy eating:
- Week 1: drink water with meals instead of sugary drinks
- Week 2: start each meal by eating a fresh fruit or vegetable
- Week 3: eat a light, healthy breakfast every morning
- Week 4: keep only healthy snacks on hand at home and work
- Buy myself a treat I've been craving!
- Week 5: begin packing my lunch at least 2 days a week
Don't overwhelm yourself trying to change everything at once. If you set a practically impossible goal like "never eat sugar again!", you will probably only get frustrated. A goal with specific steps helps you track your progress and keeps you moving in the right direction.
Talk it up
Don't keep your goal a secret. Tell friends and family and ask for their support. Even better, find someone with a similar goal and support each other in your progress. (And maybe it's a good idea to avoid those people in our lives who like to be negative and don't give us the kind of support we need.)
Try throwing your successes out onto social media. A Facebook post about how you just ran 3K or haven't eaten junk food in three weeks can bring you lots of supporting and affirming "Likes"!
Don’t beat yourself up
An important part of getting to any goal is to plan for some setback. You may be sick for a week and have to go back two weeks in your 5K training plan. You may have to travel for work and can't eat as healthily as you would like.
Nothing goes perfectly, but don't give up completely just because you suffered a minor setback. Go back to whichever step in your plan makes sense and recommit yourself. If you feel really discouraged, remind yourself how much you have accomplished. Write out how many times you HAVE used willpower to work your way down the path to your goal. Remind yourself how strong you have been -- and will be again.
You CAN do it!
Willpower isn't something that just easily comes to most of us. It needs to be worked and tested. The more it's used, the stronger it gets. Experts say that it can take 21 days for a new behavior to become a habit -- and 6 months for it to feel like just a part of just who you are. Be patient. Be proud of each of your accomplishments. And keep moving forward.
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