We are nearly two weeks into the New Year. We have been faithful to our New Year’s resolutions for less than 4 percent of the whole year. How are you feeling about your resolution? Are you hyped up about the recent change? Or are you bummed out? I watch as dieters mope across the work hallways and hang their heads as they crash from lack of sugar and crave salty chips. We torture ourselves with high end goals but have a low end understanding of what it takes to keep them.
You probably have great intentions when it comes to persevering through this first month. The truth is only 8 percent of us keep our resolutions. What can you do to be a part of the winning few? I am eager to help you understand how to stay on track.
Lose the Victim: If you feel like a victim in the race to your resolution, failing is right around the corner. By victim, I mean the ideas and judgment that you have given your resolution; if the goal is good but your reactions to it are negative, it will be hard to keep. I’ve overheard people dieting this week say that they are upset, hangry, and unhappy. The self-talk, emotional responses, or judgments that we give to our goals can be defeating or encouraging, whatever we allow them to be. If we can interpret and evaluate the situation with positive regard, we make it better. Our mindset about our goal is important. Instead of negative statements and defeated talk, try positive reflection about the goal.
Check in with Yourself: Know what goals you can reach and be honest with yourself. Ask yourself, “What do I need to achieve this goal?” Set realistic goals and challenge yourself to keep those goals by “awarding” yourself something at the end of that goal (such as a massage or an overnight trip you’ve been putting off). An example: You resolve to work out more this New Year. Your goal is 20 workouts a month. Each month you reach that goal you get a massage. We go to work to get money. Money is the “prize”. Work is the “goal”.
Balance: Life is about balance. Too much or too little of anything is bad. Make sure your resolution is a balance of ways you want to better yourself this year.
Temptation: Most New Year’s resolutions include something that is going to link to temptation. So you have a list of foods that you can eat on that diet, but what is your plan for when tempting treats make their way into the office? If you resolve to save money, what is your plan to resist your favorite purchases or to not spend as much time at the restaurant you love? You need to have a plan in place to resist the temptations that are going to come along with that goal.
Remember, an important part of improving any part of our lives is an understanding of ourselves. Don’t be discouraged if your resolution isn’t working the way you planned, just reevaluate it. We get stoked on the social stimulation of the New Year’s resolution, but we can make improvements on ourselves at any time in our lives.
It is safe to conclude that a number of us make New Year’s resolutions, but very few of us keep them. A Forbes article reports only 8 % of those who make them actually keep them. You don’t need another reason to be hard on yourself in 2014, so let’s break down your resolution and look at how to keep it.
A Times article reported that the ten most commonly broken new years resolutions are: Lose weight and get fit, quit smoking, learn something new, eat healthier and diet, get out of debt and save money, spend more time with family, travel to new places, be less stressed, volunteer, and drink less.
Is there pressure to make a resolution? Are resolutions a mere epiphany statement? Why do we find it so difficult to carry out goals for only 12 months? Any time you make a goal, it is important that you have the right tools and mindset to follow through with it. Check out the following ideas:
1. Goals need to be measurable. This will be different for each goal. In the example of losing weight, how much weight? in how much time? how will you keep up with it? You need to devise a very specific plan on what you are working towards. If your goal is to volunteer: where will you volunteer? how often? Make sure that you have a way to measure your goals and make sure that you do it each month to see how you are doing with it. Change the goal if you are struggling to meet it.
2. Get the right tools. If you are looking to spend less money and save more, tools that might help you are mint.com or creditsesame.com. You can search the internet for neat tools to help with any goal. New apps that manage weight goals or sites that can help you learn how to prepare healthier foods.
3. Be real with yourself. Take it from someone who hates working out, you need to be honest with yourself about what you do and do not like. The things you don’t like will take three times as much motivation to do. For motivation, I keep a chart for myself. I place a star sticker on the days I go to the gym. By the end of each week, I am able to see how well I did. If I only went three days in one week, I push myself to go five in the next. Placing that little star on the chart motivates me, because if I complete a certain number of days each month, I get a prize for the month. A new outfit or a trip to the spa works to motivate me each month. As you get going, feeling better might be enough motivation to keep it up.
4. Mental Health. Whether your goal is to lose weight, to save money, or to drink less, it is important to understand the root of what might hold you back from your goals. Sometimes losing weight isn’t as easy as going to the gym, because the root cause of your excess weight might be emotional. Taking care of your mental health can help you learn what might hold you back from certain goals. Find a therapist or counselor, use eastern thought to pick up meditation or yoga or try reading a self-improvement book.
5. Accountability. Find a way to hold yourself accountable to the goal or someone to help hold you accountable. A co-worker or friend might be working on a similar goal and you can help keep one another on track. If you are self-motivated you might be able to do this on your own. If you have had trouble in the past reaching new years resolutions, be diligent to try all these ideas.