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New Year’s Resolution – The Trick to Meeting Them

Yep, it’s that time of year again.  As soon as we make the leap over the holiday season in a couple weeks, out will come the new year’s resolution.  “It’s a new year and it’s going to be a new me!”“This is the year I am finally going to lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more, stop smoking, make more money…”

Not to throw a wet towel on the excitement, but the reality is that only about 8% of people ever accomplish their new year’s resolution.  And, most don’t even stay committed to their resolution after the first 30 days into the new year.  At this point you might be thinking, “I’m going to be one of those 8%,” but you’re really not clear on HOW you will be part of that elite group.  Or, you’re totally discouraged because of your past new year’s resolution failures and so you aren’t going to bother making one. 

Before you charge ahead or give up, read on and I’ll give you 3 tricks of the trade for achieving your resolution.  And yes, you NEED to write things down in whatever medium you prefer.

First things first. What’s your resolution?  Have that in mind.

Trick # 1: Answer the Question, “Why Is This Your Resolution?”

This is trick of the trade #1 for a reason. It’s the first and most critical thing to ask and answer for yourself.  Too often we make a resolution because it’s the thing to do.  Everyone around you is making them. Gyms drop their membership and/or initiation prices.  You are inundated with sales on dieting programs and all sorts of other things.  But, if your why is just the thing to do and it isn’t important enough to you, you will fail! 

Let’s look at one of the most popular new year’s resolutions, to lose weight.  You may want to lose weight, but why?  Ask yourself “why” at least 3 times, each with a different answer.  Dig deeper than “it’s healthier.”  For example, “I want to lose weight.” 1) Why? “I want to look great in my clothes.” 2) Why? “I think people would take me more seriously at work.”  3) Why? “I’d have more confidence in myself.”  Now you see that it isn’t about just looking good, it’s about being a person that is confident.  What could this confidence in yourself bring?  A promotion, motivation to begin a new career, a happier marriage, meeting someone…?

Trust me, if you can’t come up with a bottom line answer that makes you feel good, then it will be an uphill battle to accomplish your new year’s resolution.

Trick # 2: Ditch Your Resolution! Have A Goal Instead.

This may sound like the same thing, but they are vastly different.  A resolution means you resolve to do such and such.  “I resolve to lose weight this year.”  Great!  Now what?  How are you going to do it?  Exactly when are you going to do it?  Resolutions are vague while goals have specificity.  A goal gives you direction, a sort of roadmap to follow.  Using the “I want to lose weight” example, your goal must be:

Specific…specifically how much weight do you want to lose?

Measurable…easy enough with a scale

Actionable…what are you going to do (i.e. exercise x days/week; cut xx calories/day)?

Realistic…are you giving yourself enough time to achieve it? (Realistic weight loss is 1-2 pounds per week.)

Timely…when do you want to lose the weight by?

If you really want to increase your chances of success, think in quarters of the year instead of a whole year at once.  Start your new year by creating a much smaller “New Quarter Goal” rather than a year goal.  This will seem easier to achieve  and give you confidence.  And you can make quicker changes if something isn’t working.  Once one quarter has ended you’ll make a new goal for the next quarter based upon your progress to date. 

What if by doing it this way, you ended up losing 15 pounds by the end of the year instead of the 20 pounds you really wanted?  You’d still feel really good!  You will have made fantastic progress and be confident you could keep the weight you lost off.

Trick #3: Schedule Time to Spend on Meeting Your Goal

Bottom line, if you are really serious about meeting your goal, you need to know what you are going to do and when you are going to work on it.  Each Sunday, look at your calendar and plan out your week.  For example, if weight loss is your goal, you need to block out times you will exercise that week.  This simple action works for anything you want to accomplish, whether it’s the one thing you have to get done that week or you want to spend uninterrupted time with your family or friends. 

So, be in that 8% of people that accomplish their new year’s resolution!  Just remember…

  • Know why the resolution is important to you,
  • Turn your resolution into a goal and start the new year by creating a much smaller “New Quarter Goal” to increase your chances of success, and
  • Set aside time to work towards your goal.

Goals or Daily Habits: Which is More Important?

Without goals you will have difficulty achieving a significant level of success.  This stands for anything you really want, whether it is health related like losing weight or career related such as becoming a CEO.  Without goals you don’t have a road ahead of you to follow.  If you don’t know where you are going how are you going to get there?

But, your goals are worthless.  They REALLY don’t matter.  It’s just a fantasy, a story of desire you tell yourself, unless…

UNLESS your daily habits are 100% congruent with your goals.  So, let’s look at daily habits. 

Let’s say one of your goals is to run a marathon in 6 months.  Great!  Your daily habits are as follows: 5-6 hours of sleep, run no more than 7 miles/skip workouts, poor eating habits. 

Results: Failure, or worse, serious injury trying to finish the marathon.  So, what did it matter what your goals were if your daily habits didn’t match? 

This is not to say you have to be perfect every single day.  You are human after all.  A slip up in your daily habits or a day off will not deep six your goals.  But, that can’t become your reality or you may as well have never made the goals in the first place.

How can you make your daily habits match your goals?

First…ask yourself what you need to do differently each day to make your goals a reality.  For example, if one of your goals is to lose weight, do your daily habits include exercising at a specific time and eating healthy meals?

Second…be honest with yourself.  Are you cheating and consuming more calories too often?  Are you skipping too many workouts, are they of a high enough intensity?  Do you need the help of a fitness professional or dietician?  Are your daily habits really matching your goals?

Third…make yourself accountable.  Whether you do this daily or weekly, you need to evaluate if what you’re doing is getting you closer to your goals.  If not, what changes do you need to make to your daily habits?  If it helps, have an accountable partner you check in with at least weekly.

So, which is more important, goals or daily habits? 

Goals are important to know where you are going.  Daily habits are important in getting you there.  Goals don’t mean squat if your daily habits don’t match up with meeting those goals.  So, if you want to make your goals a reality, your daily habits have to be the means to get you there.  Focus on the right daily habits and you will have success.

Make Fitness a Lifestyle Instead of a Goal to be Reached

If being healthy and fit is important, why do so many of us fail at it?  It’s not from a lack of trying.  Truth is, each year consumers spend billions of dollars on weight loss products, diet programs, supplements, gym memberships, etc.  We spend this money to reach a goal of losing those 20, 30, 40…extra pounds we’ve been carrying around, getting 6-pack abs we see on TV, or being 60 and moving like a 30-year old.  

Are these goals bad or unachievable?  Of course not.  It’s important to know what you are shooting for.  But, it’s more than just about a goal.  It’s about creating a lifestyle, and it’s not as hard as you think.  In fact, you just might be more successful…Here’s why.  

What Happens When We Set a Goal?

Three unfortunate things tend to happen when we set a goal(s):

  1. We have unrealistic expectations.  Those 20+ pounds?  We try to lose them in a matter of weeks.  6-pack abs?  “My body can look like his/hers if I work hard enough.”  60 the new 30?  “All I need is that supplement.”
  2. We go to extremes, we try to do too much too fast.  We jump all in on the latest fad diet or workout trend only to exhaust ourselves, burn out, quit, and feel like a failure.
  3. We look at that goal(s) as the end all.  Once we reach it we think we are done.

Of course, as mentioned above, having a goal is important.  If you don’t know what you want to achieve, then shooting for something intangible is a sure miss.  We have to have goals.  But, if we focus more on making health and fitness a lifestyle, then our chances of not only reaching the goal, but maintaining what we achieved, are even greater.  

A Fit and Healthy Lifestyle…Yours for the Taking

Let’s look at 5 simple ways to make fitness a lifestyle.  Don’t try to do all 5 at once.  Just take one at a time until it is a part of who you are, then move on to what you think you can do next.

  1. Don’t deprive yourself of the foods you love, as it rarely lasts before you eat them again.  Instead, make them healthier.  Love pizza?  Make your own dough (it’s actually quick and easy) and load it up with more fresh vegetables than meat.
  2. Find exercise you like to do.  If you don’t like it, you won’t stick to it.  If you hate to run but love walking, make it really brisk walking to get your heart rate up.  Even consistent low intensity exercise is better than inconsistent high intensity, or worse, none at all.
  3. When you get off track, take 1 small step to get back on.  If you ate junk food today, make yourself a promise to eat 1 healthy meal tomorrow.
  4. While never easy, stop comparing yourself with someone else and how they look.  Your body is your body and it can be fit and healthy.  Our muscles aren’t built all the same and they won’t always take on the same look.  They don’t have to for you to be just as strong and healthy.
  5. Switch things up every once in a while.  Try new foods, mix up your exercise and physical activity/hobbies during the week.  You’d be surprised how this turns out to be a fun and motivating way to live a healthy, fit lifestyle.

Think about fitness as a lifestyle instead of a fixed goal to be won and done.  In the long run, it really is the key to long term success.