The new year is almost here. I, like many others, am starting to think about how I want to start off 2016. The new year is about change and a fresh start and new year’s resolutions can be a really good thing. But let’s be honest here, how many of us actually stick to them?
January is always a great month. Gym membership goes up, people really try to eat healthy, and changes are made. But come February, we are back to our old, comfortable ways. But it’s possible to stick to those resolutions, and here’s how.
- Be realistic. If you want to start exercising, but have a very busy schedule, going to the gym everyday just may not be possible. Days are skipped here and there due to other responsibilities and pretty soon they don’t happen at all. Choose a resolution that fits your life and that is doable. Instead of the gym everyday, choose something like a yoga class on a Saturday morning and go from there. Or, instead of completely changing your diet, add in extra servings of fruit and veggies and increase them over time. You don’t have to change your entire life right now, things can happen slowly.
- Write it down. Writing down your resolution makes it real and helps to create a psychological shift that sets it in motion. It articulates your goals, making them clearer. It also reinforces to your brain that you mean business because the mental and the physical are already being connected.
- Let things go. If you slip up, fall off the bandwagon, or just plain forget, it’s ok. Just like falling off of a bike, you dust yourself off and get right back on. People fail and people make mistakes; it’s how we grow and learn. And sometimes falling off the wagon in order to indulge in something like birthday cake or a night out with the girls is a necessary indulgence.
- Visualize success. If you go into the new year expecting to fail, you probably will. It is truly beneficial to “think positive”. By creating a mental vision of yourself achieving goals, you are subconsciously telling your brain what to do. Places are easier to get to if you know what they look and feel like, so seeing the final destination for success helps to create the roadmap. It’s all about making a mental shift that will keep you focused, positive, and on track.
- Reward yourself. It can help to give yourself things to look forward to if you achieve certain goals or stick to resolutions for a certain amount of time. Say, if you exercise at least twice a week, you get something special at the end of the month, like your favorite take out or a manicure.
- Create a support team. Having like-minded people to talk to about failures and successes and to get support does wonders to help you achieve goals. People thrive off of social support, but beware that people can just as quickly bring you down. Surround yourself with supporters, even if they are not themselves participating. Those cheerleaders can help to keep you going.
- Enjoy the journey too. Resolutions are so easily given up often because the journey itself is tedious, boring, or just too much work. Make the path leading towards the goals enjoyable so that you stick to it. If you want to eat healthier, for example, include healthy foods that you like. Drizzle dark chocolate over fruit, eat baked sweet potato fries, invest in a few cookbooks. If you want to exercise more, choose routines and classes that sound fun or that include a friend.
When it comes down to it, if you want to change your life, you totally can. It’s ultimately about will power and drive, but with the right tools, you can set yourself up for success.