The beginning of the New Year is a time when many people make resolutions. Things like losing weight, going to the gym, and stopping smoking are common on the list. The gyms seem to always get very crowded in January, and by the spring the crowds have usually thinned. If you want to make resolutions for the New Year, and want to make them stick, there are some things you can do to help.
(1) Start small and be specific. Make achievable goals that you can actually meet. The most important thing is that you begin to make movement in the direction you want to go in. Whether you are hopping off a curb or leaping across a canyon, the basic movement is the same. Train your brain for success. Start with something you can do. If you want to start going to the gym, set your initial goal for three day a week instead of seven. If you want to eat healthier, try replacing specific foods in your current diet with healthier alternatives, like replacing soda with water or cookies with fruit.
(2) Keep track of your progress. There are many apps and devices on the market to assist you in tracking progress on your goals: HabitBull (android), Balanced (ios), Way of Life (ios) and Good Habits (ios) are a few. Fitness trackers, like fitbit, are also popular. These apps and devices make use of the simple science that when we are keeping track of what is actually happening, we tend to give it more attention and we have better outcomes. So whether you use a smartphone app, a device, or a spiral notepad, just keep track of how you’re doing on your goal.
(3) Get support. We’re a social species and we usually tend to do better when we’re doing something with others rather than doing it alone.Talk to family and friends about what you are doing. Consider joining a group to assist you. This could be a fitness class at your gym, a smoking cessation group (call 1-800-662-8887 to find one), a support group, or a meditation practice group. Depending on the issue you’re working on, there are lots of options available.
(4) Finally, and most importantly, practice kindness and compassion towards yourself throughout the process. Beating yourself up accomplishes nothing and undermines your motivation and confidence. On any new endeavor there are almost always failures and relapses. When you meet these with kindness, acceptance and compassion it is much easier to get back on your feet and continue moving forward.