New Year’s Resolutions. Everybody has them. Even the cynical “anti-resolutionists” can’t help pondering the usual questions. “What can I change this year about myself?” “What goals did I not reach this past year that I want another shot at?” And for most people, one of those “non-resolution” resolutions has something to do with physical health. Maybe it’s to eat less, or possibly to exercise more. Unfortunately, I think most of our physical health resolutions are plagiarized from last year’s list. Sure we have the best of intentions. And we often start strong only to burn out well short of December. I’m sure there are many reasons for this. Regardless of these excuses, I would like to offer you 5 simple tips for successful health-related resolutions for the coming year:
1: Set multiple short term goals. Split your year up into segments (quarters, months, weeks) and set goals for each segment. This is helpful both for when you are knocking it out of the park or haven’t even gotten off the bench. For those doing well, it is great motivation to keep it up. For those failing miserably, it is a great time to refocus without feeling like “what’s the point?”.
2: Keep the goals attainable. Be reasonable here. No need to correct 30 years of bad habits in 3 months. I’m by no means against optimism; but even more important to me is success. I would rather see you set a goal for yourself that is too easy than to fail at one that only a chosen few could possible reach. Feeling like you are successful breeds a desire to do more, and feeling like you are never going to reach the mark makes you just want to stop trying.
3: Simplify. Don’t make your goals overly complicated. Resist the tendency to try to change too many things at once. Pick one or two things that are easy to assess. You may need a complete overhaul in your diet, but start with the easiest changes that will make the biggest impact. Maybe it’s “no more sodas”, or “less fast food”, or “start an “online personal training program“. Even one minor change over time can make a major difference.
4: Keep track of your progress. At regular intervals, reassess your progress. Maybe that’s weighing yourself once a week or keeping a food journal. Make it specific to the goal, easy to measure, and WRITE IT DOWN. That way you can see trends as the year progresses.
5: Share the burden. Find an accountability partner. A friend, mentor, personal trainer. Someone you trust who will be honest, yet encouraging. Not someone who will enable you and make excuses with you, but someone who will be understanding and will gladly share the journey. Even better would be someone who has a similar goal they are striving towards. Then you could meet each other’s needs and lift each other up!
While these tips can work for any area of life improvement, they work especially well for health-related goals because those are usually pretty easy to measure. And while these are by no means a guarantee for success, they will put you on the best path. But remember, it is still up to you to take the steps. Happy Travels!