Getting a Head Start on New Year's Resolutions
Are you a resolution-maker? How's that been working for you? Here's a systematic plan for success that will guarantee you reach your goals. Follow the steps, all designed to take just a few minutes each day.
1. Get very clear about what it is you want to make changes to in your life. Last year, I decided that saying I would finally lose weight and keep it off really hadn't worked, as 30 years into resolution-making, I was still saying the same thing. What I said instead is that I would stop buying food I intended to binge on and that if I just had to binge, it would be from the healthy food choices I had at home. I also wrote it down. The results? Success! I veered from the path a total of 10 times, something that over the last 40 years has been unheard of. This over a period of 447 days. Pretty dang awesome! The difference was all in the clear decision I made, being committed to that goal and also sharing it in a public forum. Be precise, be clear and follow through.
2. Prioritize. If you've been saying "I just don't have time for..." and that something is very important to you, there may be reasons you use this as an excuse. Yes, excuse! If it is that important, you CAN find a way to make time for it. Start with allowing 5 minutes a day towards this something. It will become a habit-just stay with it. If fear of failure is stopping you, get your fierce on and shake it off! You may find that things you find time for, perhaps as a way to keep you from having time for the things you may secretly be afraid to do, are really draining your spirit and keeping you from experiencing the amazing opportunities of growth-mental, spiritual and physical.
3. Create consistency to your actions. Not meant to be interpreted as develop a boring routine but as integrating new routines into your schedule. When you feel tempted to revert to old routines, remember that a resolution for the new year is not about changing everything overnight. Start with small steps and remind yourself that the choice is always yours: continue on in the same old fashion or make the changes to evolve and create the life for yourself that you dream of having. If you choose to plant your feet and resist change, remind yourself of the small steps and ask yourself how this choice makes you feel? Is this the feeling that you want to carry forward into another year? If you are able to enlist the assistance of a person whose opinion you value, you can also run the reason for not wanting to stick to your game-plan by them. This will give you honest feedback about whether your reason is valid or perhaps just an excuse. While the decision on how to proceed is still yours, you may find that it will be more difficult to rationalize away from positive change. Besides, compared to the opening photo, which would you rather: the bright and promising head-start, or dark horse pushed in the arse to depart!
4. Surround yourself with positive vibes. Most of this is aimed at your inner dialogue. It's said that we can only hold one thought at a time in our minds so make sure yours are good. For example, if you want to reduce your sugar intake, instead of saying 'No sugar for a month,' which is a truly negative comment, search for alternatives that you can enjoy. The start of a new program is usually exciting but the novelty wears off and the work hits us in the face full-on. Be prepared for this! Having happy alternatives ready will help you overcome this ebb in the flow of positive life-enhancement! It's how I found my sugar-free persimmon pudding recipe that is a life saver for me. While the recipe I found called for sugar, the fruit is so sweet when fully ripe that I took a chance and made it without sugar and found it to be tremendously satisfying. So-focus on the infinite possibilities of pleasure that are there for you to discover while keeping your mind in a positive place. Some days may be harder than others to accomplish this so why not just make that the focus of your day? To keep your mind in a good place for an entire day, regardless of the hand you feel you're being dealt, takes a lot of strength and courage- a worthy endeavor indeed!
5. Reward yourself for your accomplishments. Acknowledge even the small successes. You could set a reward system for every week, every month, every 3 months-whatever works for you. Women in particular are good at caring for others yet tend to not care for themselves as readily. Perhaps a reward could be a few hours alone at the library or going to a movie of your choice, alone or with girlfriends. Maybe a mani-pedi. Whatever seems like an indulgence, use it as a reward. Just keep it within your means!
6. Set the stage for long-term success. Once your mission statement has been defined and written down (#1 above), these tips should help you stay the course of action:
Make sure your goal is challenging. I don't know about you but I get bored easily. I also want to feel that something is within my ability to achieve. This can be a fine balance to reach. Start small and as you build your confidence, increase the level of difficulty. Like learning to walk before you can run, push yourself to reach beyond where you are already. If you want to get into better physical condition but have been a sofa slug for the past 12 years, just get your butt up during commercials for one week. Then, agree to limiting viewing times to an hour less each day over the course of 2 weeks. May not seem like much but you are setting yourself up for long-term success. Be aware of whether or not your goal seems too challenging though be sure this is not falling into the gray area of resistance to change!
Your goal needs to be attainable. Goes hand-in-hand with challenging. If you make your goal too challenging, you may get frustrated and quit. This is something many do unwittingly to sabotage efforts from the start so be aware.
Your goal is specific. If you're saying 'I want to lose weight' but this hasn't worked before, make sure you include the amount. I want to lose 20 lbs. is very specific and very measurable and can be broken down into stages that are easy to track.
Your goal has a time-frame. Using the example above, it could be that your goal is to lose 20 lbs. in 6 months. That can be broken down to about 3 1/2 lbs. a month, equating to a daily calorie deficit, or increased energy demand, of approximately 380 calories. This goal incorporates all of the above tips: it is challenging but attainable, very specific and includes a time-frame.
The final tips are to keep goals framed in a positive light and to be flexible in the attainment of your goals. Particularly when it comes to losing weight, when we start seeing the process as torture in all the food we can't eat, it's important to remind ourselves that food choices are unlimited and our creativity is truly the only limiting factor. Break out of the box and explore the possibilities. Allow for wiggle room and don't view anything less than strict adherence to the goal as a failure. If I had given up on achieving last year's goal the first time I bought a binge food, it would have been a failure. It's only when you quit that's it's a failure. Even when I bought that binge food, my thought process about what I was buying was changing: I said I didn't want to do it yet there I was and I knew I was going to write about it, as well as post After photos at some point so how did I want to deal with the aftermath of proceeding? Knowing the consequences to my actions reduced the portion size I purchased and also stopped me from eating every last crumb. While I still bought the binge food, there was a small victory in there and staying in tune with the positive aspects helped me stay on track, not beat myself up over it, remain honest about it and continue building my self-esteem and confidence in my ability to stay with a challenging goal.
As I wish you all an amazing, successful, healthy, happy, and blessed New Year, I would also like to make a wish that: