Sticking to Your New Years' Resolution
The New Year has become a really exciting time for me…and not for the obvious reasons. For others, it may be a time of stress or high pressure as it is the time to set resolutions, taxes will be due soon…the list goes on. I have worked in the fitness industry as a personal trainer, online coach and group fitness instructor for the past 8 years. Before, I used to make resolutions that had to do with losing weight and getting healthy. Since then, I’ve evolved my resolutions to things that I thought were fun. A few years ago, my resolution was to learn the piano. The year before that, it was to learn Spanish. I like learning new skills but here we are, two years later, and I can’t play piano and I still don’t know how to say much more than “hola” and “gracias”.
The reason that we usually fail at our “resolutions” in the new year is simple. As humans, we live complex lives. We don’t like change and to overcome one is challenging. Without realizing it, society pressures us into reflecting on whether there is something we want to change in our lives. So, we acknowledge it, pump ourselves up about it, make a little plan and carve out a little time each day to dedicate towards it starting on January 1. If you’re someone who needs a new hobby then awesome. If you’re excited enough about it, you’ll probably keep your resolution. I wasn't that excited about piano or Spanish and here I am. For most of us though, we make big life resolutions that will have a huge and when January 1st rolls around, we aren’t always completely ready for what’s to come. We dive in head first and then realize that there is more work that needs to be done than we are actually prepared for. The life we live right now, the way we see the world we live in and the layers of habits we have created don’t support our “resolution.” We have a wish and no action plan to get us there.
Having worked with so many amazing people who have come to me upon the new year in an effort to get healthy, I learned very quickly that what keeps most people from even scraping the surface towards what they want is: failure to create a realistic plan. The reason the new year has become so exciting for me is because it has become a chance not to make resolutions of adding or omitting something from my life, but to wipe the slate clean. Like the layers I mentioned before, they have to support one another and there is only so much room in our lives. If there is something that is working for me, I focus on honing-in on it and figuring out what I need to add into my life to make it stronger, and get rid of the things that don’t support it.
At the end of the day, New Years’ resolutions should be goals. Real goals take thought, planning and need to be measurable. New Years’ resolutions, as we know them, are generally just wishes And a wish is goal without an action plan. Trying to work through layers that don’t support our wishes is impossible, which is ultimately why we last a couple of weeks and end up losing sight…until of course the next year rolls around. Right about now is when resolutions get dropped left and right. This is the time to get real about what is that you really want. Begin to allow yourself to be vulnerable enough to acknowledge your current reality in order to create an effective action plan.
It’s easy to get amped up on a new idea, to sit down and dream about the future when you’ve met that goal. But what about the part of you that is afraid to be seen until you’re at the “finish-line” standing there the way you envisioned? What about the hard work? The frustration? The challenge? The moments of defeat? We don’t think about any of that when we set New Years’ resolutions. When I refer to vulnerability, I mean being okay with where you’re at RIGHT NOW and not being afraid for the world to see. It’s powerful and it’s what will get you through the hardest moments. Trust me. It’s okay to not be what you think you “need” to be. Rather, focus on who you ARE and continue working towards the future version of yourself.
Instead of giving up on your resolutions now, take a pause, be patient with yourself, set a goal and create an action plan. A goal should be 5 things:
- Specific - You have your whole life to do as many things as you want, but for now pick 1 specific goal and set your sights on that.
- Measurable - You want to feel like you’re winning. Find a way to measure your progress along the way. Weekly progress checks are frequent enough to keep us excited and on track.
- Attainable - Is it possible for you? Be serious with yourself.
- Realistic - Be realistic with yourself. Losing 30lbs in a month is not realistic. When we set goals that we can’t reach, we set ourselves up to fail. Sometimes the best things take time.
- Timely - Give yourself a deadline and hold yourself to it.
The next step is to create an action plan:
- Start with the end in mind and look at your deadline. Working backwards, set your benchmarks for progress.
- Decide what will need to change in your life in order to support your journey to your goal.
- Start with small changes. This is where you create new layers that support each other. Don’t try to do it all at once, but begin to strip away old habits as you add new ones in.
Any resolutions, goals or wishes that we have for ourselves are 100% possible. They just take the right mindset and appropriate action. I hope that anyone reading this can find the courage to be vulnerable, the patience to learn and grow and the strength to live the life we want.
Happy New Year!