Struggling a bit with keeping your New Year’s Resolutions? If so, you are far from alone! Almost 45% of all Americans make New Year’s Resolutions, and I presume the numbers are similar in Australia. Can you guess the percentage of those that are actually successful in achieving their resolutions? The answer is 8%* Yes, 8%! And most people fail before even the end of January!
So what can we do to actually be one of the very few who achieve their resolutions this year?
I believe the first and most important step is to evaluate your Resolution. If you just made it on a whim at 11.59pm on December 31st then it’s probably not a resolution that is extremely meaningful to you and was probably mostly influenced by the way you were feeling at that particular moment on that particular day. If you have a goal, it should be one that you have really thought about and that connects with you! Write it down and put it where you can see it every day. Note why you really want to achieve this goal, deep down. Connect with it on as many levels as you can.
Another major step to realize your goal – START SMALL!! Maybe your goal is to eat more healthily and exercise more often. Instead of trying to change everything at once to achieve this goal, make ONE small change initially and keep doing that change until it is a habit and just a normal part of your routine. For instance in this example, maybe you drink three cans of Diet Coke a day, so for the first week or so sub one of those out for a healthier alternative. ONE. And increase your gym/sport/walking sessions by ONE. Then stick to it! Studies have shown that changing ONE behavior at a time means the likelihood that the behavior will be retained is 80%. When people try and change two behaviours their chances are less than 35% and if they try to change three behaviours or more? Their chances of success are LESS THAN 5%!
The worst thing we can do is go full bore and change everything. We would totally burn out within the first few weeks and then most people would just give up, say it is too hard, feel horrible about themselves and think of themselves as a failure, reinforcing in their thinking that the ‘healthy’ life is not for them. The healthy life is in fact for EVERYBODY and can be achieved, but it may take a lot longer to achieve than anyone would like! Budget extra time. Budget extra patience. You’ve got all year remember!
If we just make the changes small and stick with them then they will all add up and by the end of the year you will have achieved your goal! Imagine that amazing feeling of accomplishment! Of course it won’t be easy, but this way it will be so much easier that it might just finally happen!
And if you make a mistake, then it is just a hiccup, a mere blink, and won’t effect your long term goal if you get straight back on with your plan. Don’t allow a small set back to totally throw you off track! Imagine if you were driving in your car and you got a flat tyre. You wouldn’t think to yourself “Well now I have a flat tyre my entire day and in fact my entire car is now ruined,” and go out and slash all your other three tyres as well would you? Nope, you’d see why the negative thing happened, fix it, take steps to ensure it doesn’t happen again, and off you would go with the rest of your day.
One other piece of advice is to make the changes as enjoyable as possible. If you swap your Diet Coke out for Green Tea when you detest the taste of Green Tea and think you might as well be drinking grass clippings with some dirt thrown in, then it is very unlikely that you will stick with the change! Instead sub in something you actually like, maybe that is a coffee, a flavoured tea, a sparkling water with lemon and lime juice, or naturally flavoured water (try having this with ice). The web has heaps of recipes for delicious sounding water and apparently some of them will also help with bloating and other concerns.
Here are just a few I found at www.prevention.com:
Sweet-tart: pineapple chunks, halved and pitted fresh cherries, cored and thinly sliced apples.
Apple and Cinnamon: cored and thinly sliced apples and cinnamon sticks. (I have tried this one and just used a sprinkle of cinnamon)
Slightly Spicy: thinly sliced cucumber and seeded and sliced jalapenos.
Grape Melon Melody: cantaloupe chunks and halved grapes.
Pearfect Ginger: cored and sliced pears with slices of fresh ginger.
Mango Mojito: scrunched mint leaves/sprigs, cubed mango, thinly sliced limes.
The list went on!
So, if you are just about ready to throw in the towel on your New Year’s Resolution, instead use that towel to wipe off your sweat, re-evaluate your resolution and the steps you will take to achieve it, and get moving in the right direction again. You are worth it, and you CAN do it! Let’s go!!! Xxxx
*Journal of Clinical Psychology, University of Scranton