It’s that time of year again when we sit down and decide the many ways in which we’re going to change. Losing weight, keeping our commitments, quitting smoking, spending more time outdoors, changing careers; no matter what it is, a brand new year is capable of motiving us as nothing else can. Well, until mid-February comes around, of course, and we all magically forget about our intentions. This year, make it happen instead of becoming a statistic. Here’s the quick and dirty way to do that.
Step 1: Define the goal.This may sound as silly as standing in front of the mirror repeating “I’m good enough, I’m smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!” But, it’s essential to your success. It’s not enough to want to lose weight; that’s too ambiguous. How will you know if you did it and when to stop? Instead, you want to lose 15 pounds, fit into a size four jeans again, exercise five times a week, or hit the trails every Saturday.
Once you define the goal, bring it into reality. Anything else is a pipe dream. I’d love to be rich one day, but it will always be a hypothetical goal unless I make it obtainable. Which brings us to our next step…
Step 2: Decide how you’ll get there.So say I’m planning to get rich this year by winning the lottery. Don’t you judge me! It could totally happen if I come up with a plan to buy tickets every week because I’ll never win a game I don’t play. It works the same way with your resolutions: If you just hope to eat healthier, save money, get back into shape, or make new friends, you’re setting yourself up for failure.
Come up with a strategy that details how you’ll get there. Switch to a whole foods plant-based diet, stop buying expensive Starbucks, walk 30 minutes a day, or join a club. Whatever it is, make a plan, write it down, and monitor your progress.
Step 3: Don’t expect miracles.Now that you know what you want to do and how you’re planning to do it, make sure it’s all realistic. Can you really commit to that restricted calorie menu you found online PLUS pick up a high-intensity workout plan? I’m gonna say no, and not because I don’t believe in you. Unless you have more willpower than most, you’ll probably only stick to a major change for a few days. Depriving yourself leads to cheat days and binge eating, which effectively ifies all those days of sacrifice.
Try small, gradual changes that can actually stick instead. If you want to start an intense workout routine, plan to eat regularly for the first few weeks. Or, start the diet first and gradually build in working out with gentle yoga or low-intensity walking. Realistic goals are not only easier to reach, but they’ll help you keep going. After all, what’s the point if you can never celebrate your achievements?
Step 4: Share, share, share.Tell people about what you’re doing and share your progress along the way. I know we all feel that twinge of annoyance or jealousy when people over-share on social media, but don’t let those feelings stop you. At a certain point, no one wants to hear you talk about how much you love jujitsu anymore, but sharing helps you stick with your plans and follow through.
Step 5: Give yourself a break.You’re going to fall, but Batman’s dad told us that’s just an excuse to learn how to pick ourselves up again. So, when you don’t achieve your totally realistic goal, that’s okay. Take a look back on your journey and try to figure out why it didn’t work. Did you actually exercise three times a week like you said you would? Is it possible you fudged your calorie counts and ate more than you intended? Maybe you sneaked a few cigarettes while drinking or went drunk shopping on Amazon and spent your budget money?
No matter what happened – a temporary setback or a total failure – be kind to yourself. The only way to make change happen is with your own cooperation, so get back up there and smash your goals.