Making Resolutions Stick

fullsizerenderIt’s that time of year again…RESOLUTION TIME! Yikes! We’ve all been there. We declare our resolutions at the beginning of the year with the best intentions, often times only to fall flat on our faces in a few short weeks. The problem most of us have with keeping our resolutions is that we don’t have a good plan. Like all things we are successful with in life, they require planning and hard work. Success doesn’t typically fall in our laps without those 2 things. Resolutions are no different in that sense. Below are a few tips to help us make sure we have a well laid plan. Then comes the hard work…executing the plan!

  1. Make small changes. Try not to tackle ALL the “bad” habits in one day. One step at a time gets the job done without being overwhelmed. Focus on progress not perfection.
  2. Write it down. Nothing says commitment like writing things down. Having a well written plan is like having a road map to our final destination. Without it, we are just wondering around. If we want to start exercising, we need to write down how many times a week, the duration of the activity, the form of exercise and where it will take place to name a few.
  3. Develop an accountability system. Most of us know what to do, but applying it is the hard part. Having someone or something to help hold us accountable to our goals is helpful in bridging this gap. It could be a friend, spouse, smartphone app or professional. Whatever it is, make sure you have something in place.
  4. Have a reward system. The number one rule of the reward system is: FOOD IS NOT A REWARD! It doesn’t need to be elaborate. Break down a large goal into smaller parts. For example, if your goal is to lose 30 lbs, break it down into 5 lb increments. Have a reward for reaching each 5 lbs of weight loss along the way. This could mean buying a new book or magazine, getting a massage, indulging in a hobby, buying new clothes or a getting a manicure.
  5. Be sure to have S.M.A.R.T. goals
    Specific – What is the goal? Saying we want to “eat healthy” isn’t specific enough. What specifically can we do to “eat healthy”? A more specific goal would be to include more fruits and vegetables in our diet or cut back on sweets, etc.

Measurable – How will the progress be tracked? How will we measure if we are having progress towards our goal?

Attainable – Is the goal achievable? It’s great to shoot for the stars, but if we set a goal that is completely out of reach, we have no choice but to fail.
Realistic – Is the goal and time frame realistic? A good question to ask ourselves is: “would we expect this of someone else”? If the answer is no, we need to adjust our goal.
Time specific – Is there a set time frame in which to meet this goal?

As mentioned earlier, having a well laid plan is just the beginning, but it’s crucial. It’s the equivalent of having a good foundation before building a home. The next step is putting this plan into action. Sometimes our motivation can dwindle. To combat this problem, write down the reasons it is important for you to achieve the resolution and put it in a visible place (tape it to the bathroom mirror, put it inside a drawer you open daily or in your car). This daily reminder can help us stay focused on the long-term goal. Don’t just blurt out a resolution on New Year’s Day…be SMART and have a plan!