The new year is fast approaching and, as tradition has it, you may be contemplating making a few New Year's Resolutions. January 1st often comes with high hopes of starting anew, but may also be mixed with some anxiety, especially if you haven't had much success with resolutions in the past. For many of us, we make resolutions, year after year, which more often than not, fade into wish lists. We start off with the best of intentions, but at some point things go off course and we never quite recover. This year, rather than making a lofty list of goals, why not try a different approach. One that splits your resolutions into mini goals that you feel highly confident that you can achieve.
Identifying goals, changes…whatever you call them
When it comes to your list of goals, separate them into two categories: outcome-based vs behavioral-based goals. With outcome goals you don't have direct control over the outcome. Losing 10 pounds of fat in 10 weeks is an example of an outcome goal. An example of a behavioral goal, of which you do have direct control, is including protein at each meal. Behavioral goals should be constructed in such a way as to move you closer to your outcome goal. Both outcome and behavioral goals should be practical, specific and measurable. So saying that you want to ‘get healthy' in the new year won't quite cut it.
Framing your goals
State your goals in a positive manner rather than a negative one. Instead of listing all the things you're going to give up (i.e. stop eating processed food), list the things you will gain/do MORE of (i.e. eating more whole foods, fiber, protein, etc.). Believe it or not, re-framing your goals in the positive can help to remove mental blocks and get you closer to your goal. After all, no one wants to be restricted from doing something.
Now that you have your list of goals, look deeper into the reasons why you want to achieve them. What is really driving you to make this change? Maybe you want to set a better example for your kids or something similar. Whatever your reasons are, identify them then write them down. Willpower is an exhaustible resource and having that emotional tie in to your goal will help pull you through the tough times. Referring to this list regularly will also help reinforce your commitment.
Get ‘er done
Be practical with what you can commit to. If you don't currently exercise, consider if it is realistic to set a goal of exercising 6 days a week right out the gate. Break bigger goals down, so that if you were asked, ‘On a scale of 1 to 10, how confident are you that you can make this change?' , your response is a 9 or 10. If your response is a 5 or 6, break that goal down further until you can respond with a strong 9 or 10. Don't set yourself up for failure even before you begin. Start with 1-2 goals that you feel strongly that you can achieve. After successfully maintaining this activity for 2-4 weeks move on to the next one….and the next, and so on.
I can't stress this enough. Whether it's missing a scheduled workout or over indulging at a dinner out with friends, let it go. Life is unpredictable. Things happen. Don't sweat it. Progress is not about perfection. You will still progress toward your goal without adhering to some rigid plan. Just get back on track and ditch the guilt.
Last, but most important
There's one other area that can seriously derail your resolution efforts and that is your mind. However, you define yourself is who you will ultimately be. If you define yourself as an athlete, you will believe that you are an athlete. Likewise, if you define yourself as a failure, you will believe that you are a failure. Just believing that you are capable immediately raises the glass ceiling that many of us set for ourselves. Practice positive self talk and self love regularly.
There it is. It won't always be smooth sailing, but tip the board as much as possible in your favor from the beginning and you will be off to great start.
Image courtesy of: FreeDigitalPhotos.net