One of the most exciting aspects of starting a new year is the feeling of opportunity — the chance to start over again. We can start over with any goals or dreams that we were not successful with in the past. It feels like the perfect opportunity to reset, refresh, and redefine our lives for the better. Whether you want to lose weight, get in better shape, or even develop healthier habits, we always start with the best of intentions. Unfortunately, the reality is that while many people make New Year’s resolutions, statistics show that less than 25 percent of people stay committed, and just a measly 8 percent accomplish them. What exactly sets apart the very few who are successful in actually changing their behavior from the vast majority who are not?
Here are some proven tips on how to avoid becoming a statistic — and effect healthier, more sustainable behavior change this time around:
Sure, it’s great to dream big – but if your dreams are too big, especially when it comes to your physical well-being, chances are you may have a tougher time making them come true. Ensure that your goals are achievable and, if necessary, downsize for the time-being. Going from a size ten to a size four by March might sound like a nice idea, but if you are a size ten, it is more realistic to focus on becoming a size eight. To achieve great things, you must first achieve good things.
We all have a million and one things we want to do, or at least do better. Sadly, there is not enough time in the day. Make sure you prioritize what the most important goals you want to accomplish are. Focus on one goal at a time. Anything that is not a priority is a distraction.
Having a goal of “exercising more” is wonderful, but what does that really mean? It’s hard to achieve a goal when it is so broad. Instead, reframe your resolutions so they are very specific. Instead of “exercise more,” it should be something like “exercise for at least 20 minutes for three days per week,” or “take two yoga classes per week.”
All good plans involve strategy. How are you going to carry this plan out? What are your methods to reach your goals and overcome certain obstacles? If you feel you have zero time, then perhaps you can start with a meal kit service. Another option is to order your groceries online during your lunch break at work. That way, you can pull recipes and inspiration at the same time to create a useful grocery shopping list.
Setbacks and pitfalls are inevitable. That’s life! Don’t assume everything will go your way, because it will not! Plan for bumps in the road, and make sure you have contingency plans if something doesn’t pan out. If you were relying on joining a gym close to work, but realize that their membership fees will break the bank, come up with alternative options — don’t just give up entirely. If your goal is to stop mindlessly eating all the office snacks, then bring your own food to work instead! After all, you can’t just stop doing something; you must replace one habit or behavior for another.
There is a reason that only 8 percent of people accomplish their New Year’s resolutions. Most likely, its because they have nothing or no one keeping them accountable. Find something to hold you responsible, whether it’s making a promise to your family, hiring a professional to help you stay on track, or recruiting an accountability buddy who can show you some tough love if you start to slip.
Create a timeline
How long are you giving yourself to lose 15 pounds? Please don’t say two weeks. Make sure you have a realistic time frame, but also set deadlines that can keep you focused and prevent getting side-tracked. Perhaps a check-in once a week is what you need to ensure you’re on the right path. If you’re not, it’s possible that either your goals were too vague, too demanding, or the incentive wasn’t there. If so, it’s okay to regroup and modify what your goals should be.
After everything is said and done, we all want to see that light at the end of the tunnel. We need something to look forward to. As humans, we all do things for a reason, because doing it “just because” is not enough. Set up a reward for yourself that is only contingent on you achieving your goal. It can be splurging on that pair of shoes you’ve been eyeing, taking time off for a relaxing vacation, or simply indulging in a nice spa day. Of course, if your goal is to eat healthier or lose weight, a food-related reward is not the best idea.
Overall, don’t be intimidated by the fact that many people struggle to achieve their New Year’s Resolutions. With the right mindset and set of goals, you can not only do all that you set out to do, but so much more — and you can do it sustainably. Never stop dreaming and pushing yourself to be the best version of yourself. Furthermore, your health should always be a priority, not just at the beginning of the year, but throughout the year. Don’t put off until tomorrow what can be done today.
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