Ah, New Year’s resolutions. They abound with good intentions during this time of the year. But we say buck tradition! Do something different. Step outside of the box and instead of making a new year’s resolution before the clock strikes midnight on the 31st, create a game plan to form a new, positive behavior. A large part of why new year’s traditions don’t stick is because they’re not well-thought-out. It’s easy to approach a new idea with gusto, but to truly embody that idea, you need a strategy and a good dose of inspiration.
Know Thyself: Choose a Goal That Fits You
If you’ve never liked running, rather than pushing that as a goal, resolve instead to spend time finding a workout you enjoy.If you’re social, choose a social workout. If you’re more of a lone ranger, perhaps a solo activity will work better for you. As another example, maybe you’ve never been an avid reader but you want to commit to ‘reading’ more books. Hello, books on tape! Know yourself and craft a goal to fit your individual personality. The end goal is to create a game plan that helps you stick with it. Sticking with it isn’t simple, in fact, it can be difficult. That’s why your goal should have a specific meaning and purpose so it becomes a behavior, practically a habit.
Ensure Your Goal Has Meaning and Is Attainable
Your goal should have a goal. In the earlier workout example we cited, your goal’s goal could be to lose weight, lower your blood pressure or just be a healthier you. It’s good to elaborate on your goal as much as possible. We encourage making your goal into a mantra like, “I am centered, healthy, fresh fit and energized.” Use your mantra. Love your mantra. Become your mantra.
It should also be a well-defined goal, much like the S.M.A.R.T. principle often used in business, your goal should be:
It’s easy to lose track of a goal if the objective isn’t clear and the desired outcome is fuzzy. Let’s go back to the example of working out. Resolving simply to ‘work out more’ will likely result in disappointment. It’s not specific enough. Instead, you could resolve to do the following:
Weeks one and two of the new year: Explore different Groupon deals and find a great workout class by the end of week two. (This goal is Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic and Attainable).
Week three: Commit to doing x amount of workouts per week for the next six months. Bonus tip: Set a schedule to make this more achievable. If you’re a morning person, lay your clothes out the night before your workout, have your coffee, water and pre-workout snack ready.
Week four onward: You’re off and running (or working out in another manner). Look at you go! To keep these changes moving forward, don’t forget to provide yourself with positive reinforcement.
Say ‘Yes’ to Positive Reinforcement
Chart your progress via a journal or calendar and give yourself milestones to mark success. One milestone could be the number of workouts completed, another reaching a new level of intensity or mastering, for example, a challenging yoga pose. We believe in celebrating accomplishments, plus, it gives you something to strive for. Make sure the incentives you put in place are incentives that are of value to you. For example, perhaps, you’ve been eyeing a new pair of heels or you’re in need of a great two-day getaway. When you’ve achieved a perfect downward dog or run your first 5K, reward yourself. Rewards can even be as small as praise.
Some of us find more reward in hearing a heartfelt ‘good job!’ from a loved one than we do from a gift to ourselves. Choose that one friend who’s always rooting for you and ask them to help. If your overall goal is fitness-related, choose a fit friend and ask them if you can text them after each workout for a positive message to inspire you (you can do the same with them, this is a fun option). If you’re on the competitive side, you can sign up for workout apps like Strava that track your progress and showcase your friend’s progress. This specific app gives you ‘trophies’ when you’ve reached a milestone.The end goal is to have the goal you’ve chosen turn into a behavior.
Now go set those goals and create new, positive behaviors! Here’s to a happier, healthier, even more wonderful you.
If exercising more is your New Year’s Resolution, this article will give you even more motivation to make fitness a priority: How Exercise Helps You Defeat Stress and Makes You Happier.