The tradition this time of year as we close out one year and move on to the next is to make New Year’s resolutions. But, think back…how has that worked out for you in the past?
The problem is that although most of us approach this process with good intentions, more often than not, those resolutions are broken by February and we fall back into old habits. We often try to make drastic changes saying we will not ever eat this or that again or making the goal of going from not exercising at all to running 3 miles a day 5 days a week. Changing drastically does not work long term for most people.
Making goals is great and a must when thinking about changing habits and lifestyle. The key is to be smart about the goals you set and make sure they are realistic and doable long term. Here are a few things to consider to help you reach your goals in 2015.
Are You Ready?
The very first and most important step in making change is to determine if you are truly ready to do what it takes, even gradually, to reach your goals. Ask yourself these questions to determine if you are ready:
Am I ready to change my eating and activity habits? Can I stick with the program long enough to learn new habits? Can I make a commitment to keep food and activity records? Will I make time in my busy schedule for physical activity? Am I willing to take action to avoid or overcome the triggers that affect my food and activity decisions? Am I ready to unlearn old habits and relearn new ones? Do I have friends and family members who will support me?
The most successful “changers” who are able to make REAL changes and stick with them do so gradually over time by making little changes week by week. Real lasting changes are slow and steady, not a sprint. Taking the time to make gradual change allows you the time to truly change bad habits to good ones.
Figure Out Your Why
Change can be hard but figuring out your real, deeper reasons why you want to change can increase your chance of success. In order to stick with a plan to eat better and/or exercise more, or to improve any aspect of your life for the long-term, it is critical to think about – and write down – your own individual “why”. You can read more about figuring out your why here: http://annajonesrd.com/2014/06/11/finding-your-why/
Write It Down
Putting your goals down in black and white makes them more apt to happen. Post them where you can see them to remind yourself where you are headed. Committing to keeping a food and exercise diary is a great way to stay accountable and see patterns in your habits that may be sabotaging your efforts.
Visit Your Default Future
In the book Change Anything, The New Science of Personal Success, the author describes your “default future” as the future your are headed towards if you continue to live the way you are now. How will your health be in 5 or 10 years? When you look ahead do you like what you see?
Think About Last Year
Think back on past attempts to get healthier or lose weight, but don’t be hard on yourself, instead do it constructively. Think about what got in your way before. Was it scheduling or time conflicts? A lack of family/friend support? A lack of motivation? Identify your typical excuses and areas to improve so you don’t make those same mistakes again.
Plan For Setbacks
No person or plan is perfect and if you go into making any change with perfection as your expectation you will set yourself up to fail. Get to know your triggers, temptations, and crucial moments before you are in the midst of them. Do you get fatigued mid-afternoon and crave something sweet? Are you starving when you get home before dinner? Do you feel snacky before bed? Come up with solutions before you are in the moment. This applies to exercise too. Hate getting up and exercising at 6 am? Find a solution.
Don’t wait! Use the motivation you feel starting this new year to start making changes that last. It doesn’t all have to happen in January. Remember the most successful changers do it gradually.
So often I hear from clients that they know what to do, but just don’t do it. Many just need accountability and a little motivation to get started in the right direction. Let me help you be successful in the new year!