That time of year again ... “new year, new me.” It is inevitable at this time of year for friends, family, co-workers, cashiers, postal workers, pizza delivery workers, everyone we see on the street to start asking, “What is your New Year’s resolution?”
As the first of the year gets closer and closer, we pressure ourselves to make a resolution, sometimes not putting too much thought into it. We don’t set ourselves up for success. Then, when March rolls around, we’ve forgotten all about that silly resolution. I’m here to debunk the classic New Year’s resolution and give you tips on how to make the resolution a lifelong habit!
Here is a classic scenario – January 1st arrives, we dedicate our self to making a resolution. It may be something we heard our friend say they were doing, or something we saw on social media, whatever it may be, for many people the decision can be forced. We think of something we sort of want to do, we psych ourselves up for it and then we decided enough is enough, we are going to stop eating sugar all together, or maybe we are going to start going to the gym five days a week.
The first week is HARD! We make it to the gym three days, hey that’s close enough to five right? The next week we make it four days, awesome!! Week three of the New Year and we are busy so we only go two days, but that is alright because we went four days last week. We continue the cycle until February or March until eventually, “ugh, well, I’ll go tomorrow.”
The all or nothing, jump back in, quit cold turkey method doesn’t allow us to make a plan to realistically incorporate the new habit into our life. Although our intentions are good, 80% of New Year’s resolutions are abandoned by February. In order to continue your resolution through a full year and beyond, the better choice is to make a goal. A goal, instead of a resolution, allows for more planning of small steps and more thought surrounding why and how you will meet the goal.
Making a goal provides the opportunity for you to prepare yourself for a lifestyle change. Rather than psyching up for a resolution of cutting out sugar cold turkey on January 1st, with a goal you can instead make small steps to ultimately reach your goal down the line. Goals take time to achieve, but without this time to acclimate to the change, your chances of success are slim. Although you don’t get the potentially immediate reward of cutting out sugar, you have the immensely greater chances of reaching a goal of eliminating added sugars by starting with simply eliminating added sugar in your coffee.
Small attainable steps are what lead us to success when we decide to make a lifestyle change. Small steps “soften the blow” between more sugar and no sugar. Incorporating the gym five days a week into your schedule is challenging, eliminating sugar all at once is rough! Set yourself up for success and make small changes first. Go to the gym ONE DAY next week. Make your coffee at home rather than buying it ONE DAY next week.
Understand the why behind your decision making. Are you cutting out sugar because it sounds like a good thing to do? OR are you eliminating added sugars because they lower your energy and make you crash in the middle of the day? Take a minute to really think about what you are asking yourself to do and make a clear understanding of why you want to achieve this goal. How does the goal play into your personal healthy lifestyle?
Be realistic. If your goal is to start going to the gym more frequently but you know that your schedule is booked solid for the next three weeks, maybe right now isn’t the best time to fit in the gym. Instead you could take the stairs every day, or incorporate 20 squats or push-ups intermittently throughout your day. These tasks are realistic to achieve given your current schedule. In the meantime, figure out a time that is going to be easiest for you to go to the gym, start blocking it out and scheduling nothing at this time. That way, when your schedule slows down, it will be more realistic for you to schedule in exercise.
All of these tips lead to one thing … making sure you are ready. Creating a new habit doesn’t happen overnight, change is hard for many people. Mentally, physically and emotionally, you need to be ready to make the change in order for it to stick.
With these steps the hope is that the incorporation of a new habit is a little easier and in extension that the new habit helps you reach a life-long goal. The method of introducing small steps rather than one big step all at once, will better set you up to accomplish any goal. Rather than beating yourself up for a small slip up because you’ve forced yourself into a big change, goals allow you to celebrate the small successes in the journey to better health.
At the EdgarMay we are always eager and happy to help support you reach any goal that you set for yourself. Please check out our wellness coaching packages here and our personal training packages here.
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