What do I think of New Years’ Resolutions? Not much! Even though I am a pretty dedicated person, I have never really succeeded at keeping my resolutions. I am sure I am not alone. Typically, resolutions are made out of hope and wishes , and rarely with thoughtfulness or long term planning. I think we can do better.
While it is really exciting to have these hopes for The New Year, the excitement of having wishes fulfilled is quickly diminished by the reality of the task at hand. And, feeling “once again” let down by your own failure to succeed at your resolutions can do more harm than good. Over committing to anything is often a recipe for later disappointment. And feeling disappointed in ourselves often leads to behaviors that are the opposite of our initial resolution. Irony at its best! So- how do we change this?
First, don’t wait until January 1st 2013 to make cocktail fueled resolutions. Since December is typically a great time for reflection, take the next two weeks to reflect on exactly what you want for 2013. “I want to lose weight in 2013” is not exact. Instead, “I am going to lose 10 pounds by April 1 st “ is more exact, and can be planned out accordingly. “I am going to work out every day in 2013” is not realistic. “I am going to commit to exercise 3x/week” is more doable and, once you have achieved 3x/week, you can reconsider more exercise if time allows.
Once you have a specific goal in mind, now consider what actions you need to take to achieve these goals, and what support you may need in the process. If your goal is weight loss, actions may be daily food logs, reading up on the latest nutrition recommendations and research, or clearing out your home of unhealthy junk foods. For support, you may choose to join a nutrition support group, or see a nutritionist. If your goal is to exercise more, specifically plan out what kind of exercise you will do. This, of course, depends on your goals and your current fitness level, but be realistic. Actions to take would be going through your daily schedule and planning in advance when you can exercise, and choosing where you will exercise. For support, you may need to join a gym or a fitness class, or hire a fitness trainer. Support can also come in the form of committing to a road race, or getting a workout partner. Think about this now!
So, once you have actions and support plans thought out well, start the process NOW. NOW. Do not wait until January, which can then become February which can then become never. The process of personal change is just that- a process. Change is like a dimmer switch, not an on-off switch. You are evolving in a positive way over time, not making an empty promise on a whim.