It just happened. People all over just celebrated the new year. New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day are full of festivities – people have big parties, there are big dinners, lots of drinking, and football bowl games to name a few.
One of the most common traditions that comes along with bringing in the New Year is the infamous New Year’s Resolution. You know – someone gets ambitious and resolves to make some type of change to try and improve him/herself. This can be done by doing something (i.e. I’m going to read a novel a week), or by choosing not to do something (i.e. I’m not going to smoke anymore).
One of the most popular resolutions is to lose weight. It seems to be more and more common that work groups, friends, or families encourage this specific resolution – many of them by creating competitions that seek to mirror The Biggest Loser show on television. In many cases there is some sort of prize that goes to the individual or team that loses the most weight or the best percentage of weight wins some sort of prize.
People will attempt to lose this weight in both manners mentioned above – either by doing something (I will walk 3 miles every day) or by choosing not to do something (I won’t eat fast food). Either one can be effective, if you stick with it.
The problem that many people have with these kinds of New Year’s Resolutions (and one of the reasons I’m not a big fan of resolutions), is that people often give up on them. They end up being hollow promises which have absolutely no meaning after the second or third week into them.
So here it is, the “Resolution Solution.”
If you’re going to make a resolution and you’re serious about the end goal of whatever it is you want to achieve, here are a few things that you should keep in mind if you want to make it to your final goal.
Come up with a plan. Sounds like something that anyone could have come up with; I’m certainly not saying that I invented something new or that this is rocket science. It’s basic. But it’s something that many people don’t consider or don’t take seriously enough. Come up with a specific, reasonable, achievable, well-thought out plan that will get you to your end goal. If your end goal is especially large or a little bit more abstract, then you need to make it more specific! (And again, be sure it’s reasonable!)
Here’s a quick example of what I mean: Don’t just say, “I want to lose some weight” or “I want to get in shape.” Define what you mean – do you want to lose 10lbs? Does “in shape” mean that you want to be able to jog a 5K? What is it that you really mean… That is your first step before you even start in on your real plan.
Say you decide on losing 10lbs. Now it is time for your specific, reasonable, achievable, well-thought out plan. What things will specifically get you to that end goal? And are these going to be things that you’ll actually be able to do and stick with? Do you know how to eat healthy and make some very specific changes in your diet? Are you able to work out 4-5 times per week? If you’re not because you’re busy or whatever other reason, then don’t schedule yourself for that kind of routine. If you know that you can only really exercise 3 days a week, then schedule those 3 days and make them count! If you schedule beyond your reasonable means, then you’ll never stick to a program and never reach your goal. (Of course, you do have to realize that to reach a goal, you will have to make some effort – so you can’t just say that you’re busy when you’re really not that busy; you do have to make time for it.)
This is the most crucial component to make sure that you stick with your resolution. Coming up with a plan that is specifically tailored to meet your goals and that you are logistically able to fulfill is essential.
Accountability. One useful way to help you in maintaining your goal is to remain accountable. To yourself. To others. Write down your end goal. Write down your schedule/plan that you will follow in order to meet this goal. Post it somewhere that you see everyday. If you really want to up the ante, then post it somewhere you see and also where others might see as well (i.e. on your kitchen refrigerator or in your office wall bulletin board). Seeing this everyday will help keep you responsible and accountable to yourself and will also keep you aware of the progress you’ve made as well as the work still ahead.
Telling others is a way to increase accountability as well. If you tell people that matter to you what your specific goal is and that you’ve developed a plan, then you have someone extra to be accountable to. You won’t just be breaking a promise to yourself, but one that you’ve also told to other people. These are people that you can check in with as you move toward your goal, and who will check in on you as well. They will ask if you’ve been sticking to your plan and help to provide support and encouragement to you. Ideally, you would find a person who you are accountable to would actually be striving towards a similar goal (i.e. also trying to lose weight, quit smoking, etc.).
Reward Yourself. Set benchmarks along the way to your main goal and when you hit these certain checkpoints, reward yourself in some way. This doesn’t have to be any type of extravagant reward, but something to let yourself know and reinforce that you’re on the right track and doing the right things to get to your final goal. This can be something as simple as telling someone that you’ve hit a certain benchmark. Just doing this can often be enough of a reward for many people.
These are a few different pieces of advice that are important to keep in mind if you’re serious about sticking with whatever New Year’s Resolution you’ve made. These points of advice can be useful for nearly any kind of resolution – whether you’re looking to lose weight, quit smoking, or be more productive. Define your goal. Make a plan. Be accountable. And reward yourself. In many cases, you’ll find that in doing these things, this leads to the formation of good habits. This may take you even above and beyond your original goals if you are committed and do adhere to some of this advice.
So Happy New Year! And may you accomplish all of your resolutions and more in 2012!