New Year’s resolution check-in – Are you still on track?
With the beginning of the year often comes the resolution to change old habits, get fit, lose weight and start working on the best versions of ourselves. But come February many of the new resolutions are thrown overboard, long forgotten or they just seem too daunting to incorporate into our everyday life. Sounds familiar? Well, you’re not alone, most people abandon their New Year’s resolutions after a month or two. If you’ve been struggling with sticking to your resolutions, check out my top tips to get back on track. Take your time to reconsider your goals, make a solid action plan and don’t be afraid to ask for help!
1. Make SMART goals. This is a crucial planning and preparation step that most people overlook. You can’t accomplish a goal if you don’t define it properly. SMART is an acronym that stands for:
Specific (simple, sensible, significant)
Measurable (meaningful, motivating)
Achievable (agreed, attainable)
Realistic (reasonable, relevant, results-based)
Time bound (time-based, time limited, timely)
Let’s take for example a very common resolution: Eat healthier. First, it’s important to define what eating healthier means to YOU. Staying away from junk food? Eating more veggies? Get specific with your goals (e.g. eat your 5 servings of veggies and fruits daily for the next 30 days to begin with), plan them out and write them down. This will help you to get clear on your intention (where your intention goes the energy flows) and will serve you as a guidance.
Most importantly, be honest with yourself and ask yourself how likely you are to go through with it. For example, I once made the resolution to start running in an attempt to lose weight, foolishly believing that cardio (or running in this case) was the golden solution to it. I had it all planned out including a detailed training programme with increasing distances to keep me motivated and measure my success. All parts of the SMART goals were figured out, I designated specific days and distances for my runs (specific & measurable), I could easily incorporate it into my routine and the distances were doable (achievable & realistic) and I kept a clear schedule and a 2-month timeframe to achieve my goal (time-bound)… But one important factor was missing…I don’t like running. And while I kept going at the beginning and saw progress, the whole idea was doomed from the beginning because I was forcing myself to do something that I don’t enjoy. Lesson learned! So, before diving headfirst, take some time check in with yourself and get real with your goals.
2. Start with small changes. While losing weight, starting to work out again and eating healthy are all reasonable resolutions, tackling all areas at once will most likely leave you feel restricted and overwhelmed in the long run. If you don’t accomplish your high expectations, you are more likely to be disappointed and frustrated and thus abandon the efforts altogether. Instead, start with a small goal that you’re likely to accomplish, like for example cooking a healthy dinner twice a week instead of ordering in, or cut out your soda intake by aiming to drink 2 liters of water. Once you accomplish a goal, celebrate your efforts and, if you’re ready, go on to the next one.
3. Opt for progress not perfection. Had a bad day and skipped the gym in lieu of a cozy evening on the couch? It’s ok, get back on track the next day. There will always be a next day to start again and give your best. Remember to focus on the long-term results instead of getting hung up on little bumps along the road. Be kind to yourself and your body and once you make changes from a place of love and compassion instead of negativity, you are more likely to succeed.
4. Focus on what you CAN do instead of what you can’t. Do you know why most diets don’t work in the long run? They come with a whole lot of restrictions. Can’t have bread. Can’t have cake and sweets. Can’t have those tempting nachos with cheese. This negative framework can make even the best intentions seem entrapping and not worthwhile, likely leading to craving the exact foods you “can’t have”. Instead of focusing on the negative and ”can’t”, turn it into something positive by emphasizing what you can do. As an example, instead of “I can’t have dessert” reframe it by saying “I will have fruit for dessert” or “I’ll enjoy a piece of dark chocolate after the meal”. Thus, you naturally crowd out unhealthier options, but it won’t feel like a punishment or a death sentence.
5. Find accountability. Team up with a fitness buddy, ask friends or family members to join you, find a support group or a coach. Outside accountability will help you to stay on track, especially in times where you feel like throwing the towel or motivation is low. As with any journey, a good support system or a buddy joining you on your journey will make it so much more fun and enjoyable. There will probably be days along your journey where you’ll feel down or unmotivated and being able to share not only your success, but also the little bumps along the road, can make all the difference between success and failure.