From Lauren: With each new year comes a new opportunity to do better, live smarter and love stronger. The new year brings with it a clean slate; it’s a chance for us to say farewell to the behaviors that keep us stuck and hello to a healthier, happier version of ourselves. Unfortunately, simply surviving through January 1st does not bring about change. The first step is to make a resolution.
Research tells us that those who make New Year’s resolutions are 10 times more likely to make the desired change than those who do not resolve—and still, only 40 to 50 percent of us follow the annual tradition. The most popular resolutions are weight loss, improving finances, exercise and getting a new job. While these are honorable goals, I invite you to focus as much on the how (to achieve the goal) and why (it is important to you that you achieve this goal) as you do on the what (it is that you set out to change this year).
Let me caution you! Not every resolution is created equal. Follow these tips to increase your chances of success.
1. Make attainable goals
Avoid setting yourself up for failure with outlandish goals—“I’m going to lose 50 pounds and keep it off!” Instead, set a doable goal, “My goal is to lose 10 pounds this year.” Now, that’s more like it.
2. Keep your goals specific
Vague goals set yourself up for disappointment. Instead of, “I’m going to eat right and exercise,” make a measurable goal—”I will eat three healthy meals and two healthy snacks each day using the My Plate plan. In addition, I will go to sleep an hour earlier each night in preparation to wake an hour earlier each morning to do 30 minutes of cardio exercise three to four times per week, and perform weight-bearing exercise for 20 minutes, two times per week before work.” It’s not easy, but it’s worth it!
3. Develop an action plan
Give yourself an advantage—and less of an opportunity for excuses! Take Maria Marlowe’s grocery shopping advice. Get to the store and stock your refrigerator with healthy goodies. Renew your gym membership. Start today!
4. Tell your friends
The buddy system works! It’s easier to stay accountable to others than it is to ourselves. And it helps us to meet our goals to have a friend to call for comfort when we’re doing our damnedest to steer clear of last year’s comfort zone.
5. Use the Mantra
A mantra is a word or a phrase used over and over again to focus your mind, get you present and keep you on track. A quick, “I am enough,” “I’m worth the work to live out loud,” “I have value just because I am,” can help you move beyond the occasional slip.
6. Track your progress
Keep a journal! Write down your goals and check your progress every four weeks. Self-monitoring increases self-awareness. Remember—behavioral patterns can become so ingrained that this year’s you may not realize that you are engaging in last year’s behaviors.
7. Reinforce yourself
Human behavior that isn’t reinforced doesn’t continue. If you want to keep moving along the road to success, be nice to you. Reward yourself and not with something counter to your goal. Aha! Caught you—looking for loopholes! Take a bubble bath, have the girls over for a classic film night, give yourself a mani/pedi. You get the idea.
8. Create a “Resolution Healthy Environment”
Keep to people, places and things that motivate you. Your mom was right! We are the company we keep. Surround yourself with people who help you to become a better version of you. And, return the favor. We’re all in this together!