Following tradition, the new year is the preferred time to make significant changes to your life. It all sounds so good: “I am going to lose weight!”, “I am going to finally get organized!”, “I am going to spend more time with my family”, and so on and so on. Unfortunately, keeping these resolutions always turns out to be more difficult than you intended.
Bebe au Lait looks at the new year’s resolution struggle, and what you can do to make sure you keep your resolutions for life.
The New Year’s Resolution Struggle:
If you’ve been around the sun a few times, you have likely had first-hand experience of not living up to your resolutions. Don’t worry, we ALL have! It all starts out well: On January 1st, you have already begun doing what you set out to do. It’s a little inconvenient and painful at first, but you keep moving forward. After a few days, you find that your resolution is challenging, but you keep persisting. You are still confident and glad you’re doing what you want to do. However, after a few weeks, you find your resolutions tiring and annoying. You occasionally cheat, and by Valentine’s Day, your resolutions are behind you.
Keeping your resolutions is a difficult task! So, what can be done? Here are a few tips:
#1: Set Your Goal.
This is the easy part, and the part that everyone does. Come up with a goal. It’s the first step, and it is never too late!
#2: Be Realistic.
To make a good new year’s resolution that you can keep, don’t go overboard. Don’t think that you’ll be able to lose 100 pounds, volunteer 20 hours a week, bring home a 7 figure salary, and bike to work every day. You are simply setting goals that are too difficult, and too numerous to be able to achieve. Instead, focus on one big resolution, or make a few small resolutions. You can’t upset your current lifestyle too much, or you will begin cheating, and eventually abandon your resolutions.
#3: Take Baby Steps.
Instead of saying that you will accomplish some feat in its entirety, why not start out by taking baby steps? If your ultimate goal is to lose say 25 pounds, why not set your resolution to lose only 10? Losing 10 pounds, and keeping it off for a year is actually a major feat, and if you accomplish it, it will be much easier to lose the next 15 over the next year. And hey, if it turns out to be easy to lose those 10 pounds in a few months, then go for the next 15.
The main idea is to not overdo it. Set modest goals. It feels much better to accomplish easy goals than to fail at grandiose ones.
#4: Have a plan.
To make life changes, you have to change your life. It seems obvious, but think about the difference between saying “I am making changes” to “I am changing my life”. Seems a bit more serious, when you say you’re changing your life, and it is! Changing your life requires some sacrifice, and this is what is required to keep your new year’s resolutions. For example, if you want to lose weight, you know that you’ll need to exercise and diet. Simple enough, right?
Now, ask yourself: What is required for me to do these things? To exercise, you have to make time for it. You have to come up with an exercise routine. You may even have to get a gym membership. You should probably talk to your doctor about it too. To diet, you need discipline. You’ll need to commit to limiting your calories, you’ll need to buy less junk food. You should come up with a list of low-calories foods that you like to eat. You should also stop skipping meals, and cheating. There is much more involved in keeping new years resolutions than just talking. It requires a plan, and it requires you sticking to it.
Figure out everything that is required, and create a plan. It’s much easier to stick to a plan when you say…
- I will eat a piece of fruit for breakfast
- I will no longer go out to lunch
- Every dinner I eat will contain vegetables
- I will no longer buy potato chips as a snack
- I will watch 1 less hour of TV every night
- I will exercise for 1 hour a day.
…than when you say “I am going to go on a diet and exercise more”.
Be specific with your plan, it’s much easier to stick to that way.
#5: Set a schedule.
If your goal is to spend more time with your family, schedule it! Commit to spending the hour after dinner with your family. Don’t give this time up. Schedule it, and stick to it. Make your schedule known too. If you keep it inside, you will have less external pressure to stick with it. External pressure isn’t always comfortable, but remember: You’re changing your life here, and changing your life requires some sacrifice.
Every single successful person I have met has this distinguishing characteristic of keeping a schedule. Before you know it, your schedule becomes a routine, and routines are easy.
#6: Just Do It.
Don’t waste time, don’t think. Just do what you set out to do. The hardest part is getting started. Once you’ve started, the rest is easy. You’ll go to bed feeling like a winner when you “do”.
It isn’t easy to accomplish your new years resolutions, but with serious commitment, you will. We wish you the best of luck for 2009!