How many times have you resolved at any time of the year to eat right, exercise, lose weight, save money, read more, get fit, or work out more…then felt lazy, unmotivated, unsuccessful or a failure because you didn’t follow through on your resolutions?
Well, the bad news is that it’s possible you really are just too lazy, unmotivated, not ready or don’t want it bad enough. But the good news is that it’s much more likely, especially since you’re reading this article, that the real problem is not you, it’s your resolutions. With a tiny bit of tweaking and a few simple strategies, you can not only keep your resolutions this year, but you can slowly turn those resolutions into positive life choices that stick with you forever.
Make SMART Resolutions
First and foremost, your resolutions need to be SMART. This acronym, used widely by business coaches and goal-setters, stands for (with some variations): Specific, Measurable, Attainable/Achievable/Actionable, Realistic/Relevant, and Timely/Time-oriented. Make sure each of your resolutions is stated with these in mind.
For example, let’s take a common resolution like ‘exercise more’ and make it SMART.
Be more Specific: What kind of exercise? Where will you exercise? Who with?
Make it Measurable: How many exercises session will you do each week? How long will you exercise for each time?
Make sure it’s Achievable and think how to Action it: Will you join a gym, buy equipment, get a coach, schedule time in your day?
Make it Relevant to your life and preferences: What type of exercise do you like? Which is most likely to work with your schedule and budget?
Lastly, put some time frame around it: How about an 8-week exercise class? Or a commitment to run through the spring season?
Write everything down
Write down your SMART resolutions, list any action steps needed for each resolution, and continually jot down any ideas, worries, challenges, small successes, and affirmations that come in your mind.
You can keep a food diary, an exercise log, a calendar, a daily diary, a happiness journal – whatever it takes to help you achieve your resolutions.
Writing accesses the subconscious part of your brain, so you will get to know some of the ‘hidden’ thoughts and emotions behind your desire for change and be able to address any that are keeping you from making those changes.
Work on a few changes at a time
Though you may have 6-10 resolutions in mind, it may be easier for you to focus on only 2-3 of those at a time. You could focus on 3 of your resolutions in February, and once those are becoming part of your normal routine, you could add 2 more new resolutions in March. Give those a month to become habitual, then add 2 more in April, and so on.
When making health resolutions, it’s best to work on Thought and Food resolutions first, as then you will be in the right mind-set and have enough energy and nutrients to dedicate yourself to your other resolutions.
Find a support system
Often the first place we look for support is in our home, but our family members and close friends are not always on the same page as us or have differing lifestyles that make our resolutions hard to follow.
Instead of trying to change your family members, just keep focusing on you, and find other like-minded people for inspiration, motivation and encouragement. Facebook pages and internet forums are great for this, as are local community groups, health gyms, studios and classes.
Visualise yourself already achieving your resolution
When you’re sitting in traffic, daydreaming at lunch or lying in bed at night, picture yourself doing the actions you set in your resolutions. Picture the same thing over and over, and imagine yourself as the best you can be at it.
Visualise yourself doing the toughest yoga poses, bounding up the 3 flights of stairs to your office without getting winded, savouring a deliciously cooked nutritious dinner, or responding to your angry boss or child with serenity and understanding. If you truly desire the things you have resolved to do, these images will make you smile and your thoughts will in time become your reality.
Sometimes a resolution has a goal at the end, such as running 4 km 3 times a week in order to run a marathon next season. But often, a resolution, such as running 4 km 3 times a week, is the goal itself. This makes resolutions very flexible and achievable not only once, but many times!
It also means that every day is a fresh start. Just because you didn’t follow your resolution yesterday doesn’t mean it’s over. Start fresh tomorrow! When you keep going back to your resolutions, you will achieve them more and more often until the new action becomes a permanent part of your life.
Keep your SMART resolutions somewhere where you can read them often to remind yourself of what you want to achieve and who you want to be, and every day is another chance to make those positive life changes for good.
Some Resources & Inspiration
The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This book is a fabulous read for anyone wanting to make some positive life changes, as the author models a very organised and inspiring way of making and following resolutions. There is now a second book, Happiness at Home, and a website full of tools for keeping resolutions.
13 Food Resolutions for the New Year – Great ideas for specific resolutions that will ensure you ‘eat healthier’ all year long.
My Best New Year’s Resolution Diet from Jane’s Healthy Kitchen. You can download the blank form at the end of the article and write in your own foods!
What are your health resolutions this year?
How to Keep Your Resolutions All Year – December 2013