2016 is here! Did you make a resolution to go with the new year? You’re not alone: 45% of Americans regularly make a New Year’s resolution, while another 17% do so “infrequently”. Unfortunately, only 8% of these individuals actually reach their New Year’s goals - and that’s especially unfortunate for those looking to make changes related to healthy living habits.
The good news is that with a little planning, there’s no reason why you can’t ditch the majority of resolution seekers in 2016. And it’s not too late to make adjustments to a resolution to ensure that it sticks for the rest of the month! If you’re interested in making changes in your life - particularly any related to healthy living - these four tips are just what you need to make your resolution become a reality:
- Make your New Year’s resolution(s) simple. Many resolutions fail because they’re just too vague to succeed. For example, imagine if you said, “I’ll exercise more.” What would this look like? What would the exercise routine look like? Would you have to buy equipment or a gym membership to reach it? A good rule of thumb is that if your goal creates too many questions, it’s probably not one you’ll stick to. Instead, take a moment to think about what you actually want to accomplish - and then create a simple, attainable New Year’s resolution that will help you get there. “I’ll add one serving of vegetables to every meal,” for example, is a clear goal that anyone can reach, and is one that you can easily plan for each week simply by adding some food items to your regular grocery list!
- Create a deadline to reach your goal(s). Maybe you want to do a general overhaul in your diet or exercise routine during 2016. That’s fine! But remember, setting out to reach a large goal can quickly get overwhelming. Rather than striving to “be healthier” or to “lose some weight”, create a schedule where you list out what you’ll do each month this year. Include reasonable deadlines in that schedule, too. For example, if you want to get in shape, say that you’ll make time to jog or visit the gym 20 - 30 minutes a day, three days a week, during the month of January. In February, if you feel that more exercise is necessary, add 10 - 15 minutes to your workout time (and consider adding some new workout moves to your routine, too). Similarly, if you want to “lose some weight,” decide how much you’ll lose by (reasonable) dates during the year. Then, take action to plan on exercise and diet changes that will help you reach these deadlines. Breaking down your “be healthier” goal into steps like these will make your goal much more achievable - and will increase your chances of success!
- Make realistic goals. Shooting too high is one of the biggest reasons why a New Year’s goal fails. Don’t commit to something that ultimately won’t be able to fit into your schedule. Instead think of a resolution that you know can be reached with a reasonable amount of work. As an example, don’t say that you’ll walk 10 miles in an hour - it’ll never happen! Instead, plan on walking 1 - 1.5 miles in 30 minutes (and bump up your goal as you successfully hit each checkpoint).
- Don’t give up! No one is perfect - there will be days when the choices that you make don’t fit into your healthy living goals. This is normal, and should never be seen as a reason to give up altogether. Instead, accept the mistake and plan on restarting your efforts immediately, with the knowledge that even if what you do isn’t perfect, something is always better than nothing!
As you can see, the key to choosing a good New Year’s goal is finding one that is practical. In fact, each of our tips highlights a different part of what experts refer to as SMART goals - goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and time-based. This strategy is definitely one to read up on and keep in mind now that 2016 is here. Choosing a SMART New Year’s resolution - even if you choose one later than usual - will let you clearly define and successfully reach a goal that’s important to you!