Many of us enter the New Year with a physical or mental list of things we are doing to “make this year better.” We have all become conditioned to spend time between Christmas and New Year’s to reflect on the past and set goals for the future. Whether those goals pertain to health, fitness, family, spirituality, career, or finances they all seem to center around a common goal of self-improvement. Now, here we are… two full weeks into the New Year and chances are you have already considered abandoning your 2016 resolutions AT LEAST once. Why? Because CHANGE IS HARD! But not only that, you might have sabotaged yourself even before the ball dropped.
Resolution Rescue Tip #1: Don’t try to do too much at once.
This is the most common mistake people make when setting goals. For example, “this year I am going to exercise five days a week, start eating healthier, quit smoking, drink more water, make more time for my family, get that promotion at work, and save more money.” Now, I won’t say that all of this isn’t possible in a year, but a list like this can be overwhelming. Especially during a time of year when you are already making adjustments such as returning to work after a holiday, getting the kids back into the school routine, re-organizing the house after weeks of decorations, parties, and overnight guests.
I have heard all of the excuses and even made some myself over the years. I know that change is hard. However, what I have experienced personally with my clients, and witnessed in others is that the strongest motivator is success. Getting up earlier for that morning workout doesn’t seem so bad once your clothes start fitting better. When you see what you are doing is working, you are more likely to continue doing it.
Resolution Rescue Tip #2: Find ways that you can achieve small victories each week to stay motivated.
Start with small, simple changes (baby steps) that you can make with minimum anxiety. For example, start out by going to the gym three days a week instead of five. Quit sodas OR desserts, but not both at once. It will be easier for you to adapt to subtle changes. Once you do, make another small adjustment. Repeat this process for as long as you need to develop a new habit. Speaking of new habits…
Resolution Rescue Tip #3: Give yourself at least 90 days.
Our attention span is getting significantly shorter each year. We live in a world in which you can do almost anything with a smartphone. Have a question? Google it. Line is too long at this restaurant? Go next door. However, forming new habits and breaking old ones doesn’t happen quite as fast. No matter what your goal, be prepared to commit yourself to doing things differently for at least 3 months. After 90 days, you will have either experienced a noticeable and measureable change in your life, or you will have at least developed a new habit that is related to achieving your goal.
Resolution Rescue Tip #4: Give yourself a break!
If you get off track for one or two days or even one or two weeks, don’t abandon all hope. Another side effect of our impatience is an “all-or-nothing” mentality. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Life happens. You will get side tracked. However, acknowledge that there will always be obstacles and road blocks along the way and give yourself a “do-over” or two to get back on track.
And finally, a common phrase passed down for generations…
Resolution Rescue Tip #5: If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.
Enter each week with your small victory in mind and a plan of how to achieve it. Before starting a new week, think ahead. For example, if your gym schedule is Mon/Wed/Fri after work, but next week you have a PTA meeting on Monday night, and the kids have their school play on Wednesday night – either shift your workouts to early mornings on those days or be prepared to pick up two other days that week.
Change is hard, but use these resolution rescue tips to make things a little easier on you this year.