“New Year’s Resolution: To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.” —James Agate
By Eleanor Host, MD
Ah, the new year—a time to look ahead and make some resolutions. If you are like most people, your resolutions last about until February! Here are some tips to help reach your goals this time.
Be specific. It’s easier to make a lofty goal like “lose weight” or “eat healthier” or “exercise”. However, these goals are so vague that it is hard to know when you have succeeded. Try to break down your resolution into several parts—a specific main goal like “exercise” can be changed to “I want to be able to run a 5K and be able to bench press 150 pounds”. That’s pretty specific!
Next, write them down. I like to write out everything rather than typing goals out as that seems to stick in your brain better. Plus, there’s something satisfying about crossing it out on paper.
Tell all of your friends! I know, right? However, science shows that if you state a positive goal in front of your peers and friends, you are much more likely to accomplish it. Also, you get to hear yourself say it out loud, which reinforces your commitment.
Break down your goal into steps. (otherwise known as the Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day Rule). Ok, now that you have your specific goal, how are you going to accomplish it? In this case, you want to make as many steps as you can. Why? A small step is much easier to stick to and accomplish! For the 5K example, the first step might be “look up a couch potato to 5k program”. See, that’s easy!
Once you have a list of steps, get out your calendar. You should mark off when you want to have each step completed. It’s perfectly reasonable to give yourself the whole year, because your life is still going on and you will have to work in the new goal. If you want to run a 5K, you can aim for a Jingle Bell run or a Turkey Trot!
Come up with your weekly plan. I like to make Sunday my day for planning out the week ahead. Review your schedule and see if you need change the time or day of your workout. You are not perfect, and something will likely derail your plans, so plan on that also! This is also the time to review what you did last week and see if you need to do something different this week to keep on track.
Stay Positive. This may take some practice. Listen to your inner self talk—are you being negative? How can you turn that negative thought around to a positive one? “ugh, I’m so slow, it takes me 15mins to run one mile, I’ll never be able to do 3.1!” can be changed to “well, I’m slow, but OMG I just RAN a mile! I need to stick with this and keep working towards my goal!”
Enlist the help of a partner. This may or not work depending on how supportive your partner is. They are not supposed to be your drill sergeant, but a source of support. Just like goal setting, you can’t just say “hey, I need your support” and have them magically know what that means. You can say “hey, can you pick up the kids from daycare on Tues and Thurs so I can go to the gym?” Or, “can you tell me how impressed you are with me for going to the gym when I get back?”
Stay motivated. Keep your goal somewhere you can see it every day. You can also give yourself rewards for completing your monthly goals. Like buy yourself a new gym outfit if you meet your goals for the month. I don’t recommend rewarding yourself with food!! Then you will need a new resolution….
Best of luck in reaching your goals this year!