The New Year brings optimistic feelings of a fresh start, a clean slate, a new chance to reach our goals. Love them or hate them, it is estimated that almost half of Americans make resolutions every New Year. Step into any gym the first week of January and it is clear that fitness and weight-loss related goals are top picks for most resolution makers.
Regardless of whether you are a newcomer to exercise or a seasoned triathlete, setting goals can be a great way to reach your goals any time of year. (Read you don’t have to wait for January 1st)
In fact, according to a study from the University of Scranton, people who make resolutions are ten times more likely to reach their goals than people who do not make any at all.
Resolutions are a dime a dozen; it is sticking with them that can be difficult. Sadly, the reality is that many of us who vow to make changes in 2016 will drop them before January is even over. But not you, not this year. Even when the year is already in action, it is never too late to start or to start over. Here are five tips to help you turn your New Year’s resolutions into lifelong habits.
Make SMART resolutions: Vague and ambiguous goals like “I want to start running” usually lack the oomph needed to get us off the couch, let alone hitting the pavement. A large factor in determining the likelihood of success lies in writing a strong, specific goal to begin with.
The popular acronym SMART can be a great way to nail down exactly what you are after. Your resolutions should be Specific (answering who, what, when, where, how), Measurable (how will you know when you hit your goal), Action oriented (what steps do you need to take to reach your goal), Realistic (is this goal attainable for you), and Time bound (when will you start and finish).
What started out as “I want to start running” now looks like “I will follow the nine-week, couch-to-5K program and run at 5 o’clock in the morning on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at the gym.” It may take you eight rough drafts to produce a clear and specific final copy, but it will be time well spent.
|Set goals that leave you feeling like X-tina after a hot performance on the Voice|
Protip: Total overhauls of one’s lifestyle may feel super exciting and brag worthy in the short term, but they also require a lot of effort and stamina to maintain in the long term. Try focusing on changing one habit at time and you’re likely to have more success.
See it, share it: Now that have your shiny, new goal decided upon, write it down and put it somewhere you will see it every day. Let it serve as a daily visual reminder of your original purpose.
Whether you want to post your New Year’s resolution on Facebook or not is up to you, but telling at least a few close friends and family members might help you stick to your plan. When you share your goals with others, they can help provide support and accountability. They will inquire about your progress and may even offer to join you in pursuit of your goal.
No matter how many people you tell, build up your tribe of supporters before you really need it. In the likely event that you hit a bump in the road, they will be there to help you back up.
Protip: Find individuals- or better yet a group of people-who have already achieved your goal. Want to compete in a push/pull event? Rub shoulders with experienced powerlifters. Looking to run your first half marathon? Befriend some distance runners. Ask to join them for a workout or at the very least, buy them a coffee and pick their brain!
Have a plan and a backup plan: Regardless of whether you are taking small steps or quantum leaps toward your resolution, map out what it is you need to do on a monthly, weekly, and even daily basis. Include even the nitty-gritty details like what do you need in your gym bag? What are you eating for breakfast? Do you need to buy groceries for your meal plan? If you’re strength training, what will you choose for sets, repetitions, and weight? Have a plan. Get detailed.
Even with the best laid plans, meetings will still come up. Kids will get sick. A blizzard will keep you from leaving your house. Whatever it is, life happens. The more you can anticipate these situations the more likely you will see them as an obstacle to jump over instead of an excuse to quit.
Protip: Need help mapping out your workouts? Hire a professional. Because it’s not always what you’re doing but how you’re doing it that can really make a difference, in person training is second to none. A professional can help you perform movements with proper technique and provide guidance on all the details like sets, reps, and load.
Be patient: Creating new, sustainable habits or mastering a skill takes time to develop. It can be a bit like learning to ride a bicycle. Most of us needed training wheels to start and experienced plenty of times when we toppled over before it becomes second nature. Even seasoned athletes can find it difficult to improve their craft. Be patient with yourself. When you do make a mistake or progress stalls, don’t throw in the towel. Mistakes are to be expected. Even the smallest steps in the right direction eventually add up. Focus on progress, not perfection.
Protip: Training and nutrition can and will ebb and flow. Few people are 100% committed 100% of the time. Roadblocks will arise, just do your best when you can with what you have.
Don’t give up: Cavett Robert, one of the world’s first professional speakers, once said, “Character is the ability to carry out a good resolution long after the excitement of the moment has passed.” Eventually the newness of a New Year’s will wane. Your friends who started out with great intentions may have already dropped off and you may even experience weeks, possibly months where progress seems non-existent. This will happen. Expect it and be ready.
Protip: There will be days you’re just not up to putting in the effort. That’s alright. Feel free to take a day -or even a week- off. If the feeling hangs around for weeks/months on end, consider reevaluating if your original goal is still something you're passionate about working towards.