Resolutions centered around health and fitness always make the it into the top five. But, while half of Americans make resolutions, only 8% follow through with them. If this is the year you plan to dedicate to improving your health, follow these tips to make it the most successful year yet.
1. Pick a realistic and measurable resolution
Statements such as “workout more” or “eat healthier” have no method of quantification, and therefore, no room to plan and evaluate. A targeted goal can be hard to come up with. Experts recommend using SMART goal setting. Is your resolution Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Sensitive?
Now that you’ve thought of one, leave it at one. There is nothing wrong with wanting to improve more than one thing in your life, but when you focus on too much at a time, you can easily overwhelm yourself. It is better to succeed in one goal, fully, than to half reach several. It is the simple science behind the fact that multitasking doesn’t really work. In the article “The Science is Clear: Why Multitasking Doesn’t Work,” published on June 1st, 2017, by the Cleveland Clinic, contributors– Cynthia Kubu and Andre Machado– quote an old adage: “There is time enough for everything in the course of the day, if you do but one thing at once. But there is not enough in the year, if you will do two things at a time.”
2. Know your why and your how
Make a resolution that aligns with your overall goals and dreams. Don’t make the resolution to achieve that dream, because realistically that will require a lot of steps and may overwhelm you into ditching it all together. Having something that aligns with where you want to end up, gives you your “why.” Your why will be your true sense of motivation throughout your journey.
The best way to think about the “how” is to look at the how not. Reflect back on 2018 and think of what resolutions, plans and goals, you had for the year. Did you achieve them? If so, how, if not, why?
3. Don’t go for the all or nothing approach
The first slip up tends to end all when it comes to resolutions. In the Business Insider article from Jan. 3rd, 2017, writer Kelsey Mulvey, states that “according to U.S. News, approximately 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.” And because of the mindset that Jan. 1st, should be the time for change, once people stop, they don’t pick back up. Others think that if they don’t start right on time then “why not wait until 2020″! Today, Jan. 3rd, is not too late to begin your resolution!
Studies have actually found, planning to start a drastic change on Jan. 1st might actually lead to failure. You can’t make a permanent behavior change on a whim. Change requires a mental shift, through the five stages of change: pre-contemplation, contemplation, preparation, action and maintenance. So unless you’ve gone through the first three steps already, it is unlikely a change will stick. And it is ok to start the first stage right now, and start the “action” stage in a couple of months.
Have a plan but focus on each day at a time. Keep yourself motivated and positive. And most importantly, be patient. You may be progressing, but not seeing the results you expected. Progress is never linear and occurs for everyone at different rates. If you slip up, acknowledge your mistakes and get back on track!
4. Don’t pick a resolution you don’t even like
If you know you hate running, don’t make your resolution to run more. If you love sweets, don’t make a resolution to cut them out entirely. Making resolutions that you dread is just as bad as making extreme resolutions. Don’t pick a resolution just because your boss, friend, family, or significant other, wants you to.
5. Break it up and plan out
If you followed tip number one, you’ll easily be able to do this. For some, jumping into a change, or going cold turkey, works. For most, slowly merging into a new routine, adding one step, and one progression at a time, is best. It also depends on the resolution. Obviously, if you can’t do more than one push up and your goal is to be able to do 10, you aren’t going to be able to be able to crank out 10 tomorrow.
6. Get help
Knowing when to ask for help is a major secret to success. You can’t always do it alone! Even telling others can keep you accountable! However, there is a fine line. There is a difference between telling people your plan and your goal. You want to do the former, not the latter. New studies are finding that when people set a new goal, they shift their self identity. People start to see themselves as the person who has already hit the goal. When you tell people your goal, you get a kick simply from their reaction. Your friends, family, coworkers- they become impressed with your goal, even before you have achieved it. The feeling that comes from their reaction, makes you less motivated to actually work towards the goal.
If you are looking for support from others, consider joining a “mastermind group.” In the article “Top 10 Most Common New Year’s Resolutions (and How to Follow Them), published by Go Skills, Brad Zonick describes a mastermind group as “a collection of highly motivated people who share a common goal and are looking to encourage and help each other improve.”
In addition, there are all kinds of apps and websites that can help with tracking, planning, and motivating. Try new apps such as todoist, omnifocus and things. Or, if you haven’t tried a session with a personal trainer, this may be the year to do it.
First, simply write down your resolution. If you’ve made a plan, likely, you’ve written it down somewhere. But if not, do it now! It will make your resolution more concrete and keep you from forgetting about it. This will also help keep you motivated when you look back and see how far you have come.
From there, keep tracking. Write down milestones, PRs, struggles, temptations and new goals. A favorite among many is the classic before and after picture. Documenting will keep you reviewing your progress. Try to do this weekly to check in.
In addition, writing it down can actually help with the planning aspect, avoiding the most cliche excuse: “I don’t have time.” Write it down in your calendar, to intentionally make time.
See how you feel after finishing that written down item. In the article, “The Science of Accomplishing Your Goals,” published on Oct. 3rd, 2016, in Psychology Today, writer Ralph Ryback explains how “the satisfaction of ticking off a small task is linked with a flood of dopamine.” That flood will encourage you to continue that behavior in the future.
8.Celebrate all self improvement
At the end of the day, month or year, your reasonable goal may actually not be fully achievable to you. But that does not make you a failure. If you gave something your all, worked hard at it, and improved, celebrate it! You will hit some goals and not others, but if you allow yourself to get down, good luck in your attempt to even start next year!
It is not to late to make a change for 2019! Get to work on your resolution today!