Quit smoking? Lose weight? Start exercising? Eat more healthy food? It can be pretty overwhelming when your list of resolutions is longer than your shopping list. Seeing a long list of undone goals & wishes can exacerbate the post-holiday slump, which is the opposite of what most New Year’s Resolutions are intended for! When you’ve packed away the holiday decorations and put away the tree, it can be especially depressing to see an unused gym membership or no money in the piggy bank. Instead of using New Years as a time to make sweeping lifestyle and character changes, how about starting small and choosing more attainable, realistic goals? Try using New Years as a time to reflect on your past year and think about some positive, measurable lifestyle changes you may have already included, and others you can implement today.
Let’s say your goal is to exercise more often. Instead of pushing yourself to go to the gym seven days a week, start with two or three. If you want to change your diet, maybe start by swapping out dessert for fruit. You’re much more likely to develop a sustainable, long term habit by playing the slow game instead of burning yourself out quickly. Just as unhealthy behaviors develop over time, so do healthy behaviors. Don’t get overwhelmed and feel like you have to change everything, but rather focus on one thing at a time!
Set measurable goals
Maybe your ultimate goal is to eat clean in 2019. While it sounds nice, what does that really mean? Consider some specific measures you can add to your list so you can more quickly grasp that uber-satisfying feeling of “checking something off the list”. It’s a lot easier to measure “eat something green every day” or “one meatless day per week” than “eat clean”. Consider phrasing your resolutions in a way that makes them easier to follow!
Talk about them and get support
It’s a lot more difficult to break promises if you aren’t the only person who knows about them! Often it’s at social events with friends and family where you’re offered a piece of cake when you’re trying to cut back on sugar, or a glass of wine when you’re trying to drink less. Chances are, your loved ones will be supportive of your goals and want to help! Similarly, depending on your resolutions, you could consider joining a support group. Especially for goals like quitting smoking, for example. This not only gives you a network of people to share in your successes and challenges, but also makes the journey far less intimidating! The act of accepting help from those you love strengthens your inner resiliency and ability to manage stress skills that can translate well beyond your resolution!
Be gentle with yourself
This is a big one and probably the most important. Focus on progress, not perfection, because perfection is unattainable! Remember that minor missteps are absolutely fine and should be expected when you set new goals! Instead of beating yourself up over a cookie or one cigarette, focus on how you can learn from your slip-up, observe what caused it, and note how you can prevent it next time! For example, think about why you ate that afternoon cupcake when you’re trying to cut back on sugar. Did you eat enough protein with your lunch? Were you tired, and maybe a cup of tea would have helped just as much or more than that cupcake? Were you upset about something and reached for the sweets instead of addressing the underlying issue? The more you can get back to the root cause of the slip-up, instead of falling into a pattern of negative self-talk, the more likely you’ll be to get back on track in no time.
How do you handle your New Year’s resolutions each year? Do you make any? Do you have some tips and trick to share? Let us know in the comment section below.