Mondays are a great excuse to start a new program/diet/fitness regime, not to mention we just started a New Year. As tradition goes, a New Year means new resolutions, things we want to change about ourselves or our lifestyles for the better in this new year. But how often do we set new resolutions and new goals only to, after a few short weeks or months, have them fall by the wayside? Is it that we set such high, far-reaching goals that we, from the beginning, set ourselves up for failure? Or, what is it that we can do to help ensure that we follow through and reach or maintain those resolutions and goals we’ve set for ourselves? I may not have all of the answers but I think these tips and strategies will help you succeed in actually sticking to your resolutions this year:
- Set SMART goals.
I’m all about dreaming big, and I often do, but when it comes to goal setting we have to keep our goals realistic and our heads out of the clouds. So we need to set SMART goals, which are: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely. First of all, you need to be specific. Saying you want to start a new training program is too broad, but saying you want to follow a specific and detailed training plan (of which you either come up with, or find either on the internet or in books), sets you up for success. It’s also important to keep in mind that your goal must be measurable. If you can’t measure your goal, how will you know that you’re succeeding in reaching it? And, as I’ve already mentioned above, these resolutions need to be attainable and realistic. Lastly, make your goals timely by setting a time frame in which you want to have reached your goal. Is this a yearlong goal or a goal that you’ll reach when you cross the finish line of that race in July?
- Write it down and track your progress.
Studies have found that the more you monitor your progress, the more likely you are to stick to your goals. Seeing results, both in the mirror and on paper, are the best ways to motivate you to keep working towards your goal. Tracking your progress will also help you see problem areas and make necessary adjustments to keep you on track.
- Make your goals public.
This helps you in a couple of ways. First, as humans we don’t like to be embarrassed. By making your goals public you will work harder to reach them to avoid embarrassment. Second, in close relation to the first, making goals public is a great motivator. Friends and family will encourage you along the way, some may even join in, and others will ask you how it is going along the way. All of those things will help keep you motivated and working towards your goal.
- Invest for success.
One of the best motivators, for many of us, is to treat ourselves to some new gear. If you set a goal to run x number of miles each week, treat yourself to a new pair of running shoes to jump-start your motivation. If your goal is race in a bike race in June, look to see if registration is open and register now, if not, invest in a new bike outfit you plan to wear on race day. Having the right gear will make it easier to stick to a new fitness plan; plus, now that you’ve invested the money, you’ll find fewer excuses to skip your workout.
- Schedule your time and don’t flake out.
Treating your workout like an appointment or business meeting, one you schedule in your daily calendar and don’t cancel, will help you stick with your plan and turn it into a habit. This may involve getting up a little earlier each morning or hitting the gym before you head home at the end of your day. Put a reminder in your phone and on your calendar at home. Let your family know that that time is scheduled and you won’t be available. Making time for you is important to your health and happiness, which will only improve the health and happiness of your family as well.
- Reward yourself along the way.
Set milestones you plan to reach along the way and when you reach them, reward yourself! Maybe you want to cut out processed foods from your diet, three months in reward yourself by having a day at the spa. Or, maybe you’ve set a fitness goal. Each time you workout, add a dollar to a jar. Then, either three months in or on a day when you just need some extra motivation, buy yourself that new outfit you’ve had your eye on or new fitness gear (like a bike trainer or foam roller) you’ve always wanted. Rewarding yourself along the way will help you to stay motivated and working towards this year’s resolution.
Now that you have the strategies in place to make this year the year you stick to your New Year’s resolution, rethink those resolutions and put an action plan together to reach them. And, like the quote from Colin Wright above, “Extremes are easy. Strive for balance.” remember that extremes are only easy because we often fail at them. Finding balance is the key. I wish you the best of luck in this New Year setting and reaching your goals!
What are your New Year’s resolutions this year? Share them with me in the comments! 🙂
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