Many of us start the new year by making some resolutions. We vow to lose weight, exercise more, find a new job or spend more time with our family. We start the year with great intentions, but then we quickly relapse into old habits. Why is it so hard to stick to those New Year’s resolutions?
Most often the goals are either vague: I want to lose weight, or they’re unrealistic: I want to lose 20 pounds in a month. Why do you want to lose weight? What will happen if you don’t lose the weight? What is your realistic goal? Yes, I suppose you could lose 20 pounds in a month but usually those diets are not sustainable and you don’t often keep the weight off. Losing 20 pounds can be a reasonable goal but the time frame should be adjusted.
Here are some steps that can help you figure out what you really want and how to accomplish it:
- Write down your intentions and keep them in a visible place, like taped to your bedroom mirror or the dashboard of your car.
- Get very clear on what the actual goal is. You want to exercise more. How much more and for how long? Do you want to take a new class or learn a new skill?
- Make sure the goal is sustainable. It’s not likely that you will go from couch potato to working out 5 days a week for an hour each day. What would fit into your routine and what would you enjoy doing? If you don’t like the activity it won’t stick. You’ll find excuses to not go.
- Make your goal measurable. How can you track and measure your progress? For weight loss it could be pounds or it could be how your clothes fit. Exercise can be measured in time or strength. You may start out lifting lighter weights and progress to heavier ones.
- Get to the source of whatever is keeping you in a rut. Are you in a stressful relationship that causes you to eat a pint of Ben & Jerry’s every night? Are you stressed at your job and feel too tired to exercise after work? If you don’t tackle the root of the behavior, it will be much harder to accomplish your goal.
- Be clear about what your life would look like once you achieve your goal. If you resolve to go to the gym more, how will this benefit you? Can you focus on how you will feel when you accomplish this goal? Get connected to the result of your action, and you will be more likely to stick with your plan.
- Share your resolutions with friends and family. Hold each other accountable for achieving your goals. If you want to go to the gym more, have a friend call you two or three times a week to check on you or invite them to join you.
- Reward yourself with every little accomplishment. If your intention is to lose weight and you lose 1 pound a week, pamper yourself with a massage. Did you workout three or four days each week for a month? Go get some new workout clothes that let you see your new muscles.
Big changes do not require big leaps. Permanent change is more likely to happen gradually than through one big restrictive plan. Allow yourself to climb the ladder one rung at a time.
Want more ideas on how to incorporate change to reach your goals? Send me an email, email@example.com, and I’d be happy to set up a strategy session with you.