Posted by Arja on December 21 in Holistic Health
It’s that time of year again… We are in the midst of Christmas and all of the holiday indulgences and at the same time contemplating the end of one year and the start of another. For many, this is a time of retrospection that leads to resolutions and promises to achieve goals in the New Year. There are many who consider this practice psychologically unhealthy, but that doesn’t change the fact that many people make New Year’s resolutions. Many of these resolutions centre around weight loss and improved health, but many goals also centre around personal growth, improved financial status or just generally adding more balance to one’s life. The sad truth, however, is that a large percentage of people fail to succeed at achieving whatever it is they resolved to accomplish. Why is that? In some cases, people start off strong but cannot maintain the initial pace that they’ve set for themselves and within a few months they are off track completely. Sometimes people set goals for themselves that are not realistic. In most cases, however, people are trying to make changes but do not have adequate support or knowledge to help them set realistic goals and stay on track for success.
So, how does one go about setting New Year’s Resolutions and actually achieve them? You need to clearly outline your goals, educate yourself, set up action steps and make sure that you have a support network in place.
1. Set a realistic goal. If your resolution is to lose fat, make your goal to lose no more than 2lbs per week. If you lead a busy life (who doesn’t?) with limited time for exercise, make losing 1lb per week your goal so that you aren’t disappointed. The same goes for trying to make more time for relaxation. If you work, have a family, or anything else that can make evenings and weekends busy, don’t expect to immediately be able to have an extra 2 hours a night to do whatever you want. You will need to make changes across the board in order to gain more “free” time and that takes time. Striving for something as simple as going to bed a ½ hr earlier so that you can read before you fall asleep can make all the difference in the world. Managing your expectations of yourself is really important when trying to make any lasting changes.
2. Educate yourself. Whether you’re trying to learn another language, improve your financial status, get more organized or get healthier there are books and articles out there for you to read. Most people have access to the internet at home, but if you don’t there are always cyber cafes and the library. There is a vast amount of information out there for you to read on any given subject and it’s mostly free. Remember that anyone can post anything on the internet though, so it’s important to know who is writing what you’re reading. The library is another amazing resource for free information and all you need is a library card to get it! If your library doesn’t have the book you’re looking for they can always arrange to have it brought in to your local branch. Not all good information is available for free, however. There are many experts out there who offer services catering to a wide variety of needs. Nutrition, fitness, coaching (personal, business, financial) and many other counselling services are out there, and many professionals are also flexible with payment plans to help balance to cost involved with these valuable services. Don’t try to be an expert in everything and don’t be afraid to pay someone for help. You will get good information and reach your goals faster.
3. Write it down. Now that you have a better idea of what you want to do and how to achieve it, write it all down. Write down your goal and steps you are planning to take to achieve it. Having it all written down gives you something to refer to and will help keep you on track. If improving your finances is a goal, you should consider keeping track of your expenditures. If losing weight is a goal, then you should definitely consider a diet diary. Writing things down is a way of establishing your goals in the first place, and then keeping yourself accountable to them down the road.
4. Gather your support network. Reaching a goal will be harder if the people in your life are working against you. This may not be deliberate but it can still derail you. If eating healthier and losing fat is your goal make sure that the other people living with you are prepared to make changes too or, at the very least, support you and your changes. If your partner used to soothe your bad day with chocolates or ice cream, make sure they know that that won’t be helpful anymore and establish something else they can do. Perhaps a 15min back rub or a few flowers? If you’re trying to get your finances in order maybe you and your partner or a friend can sit down and help you figure out a budget. You may even want to enlist them to help you remain accountable to someone for your spending habits. Another great way to build your support network for lasting change is to look at the family and friends in your life to see who has skills that could help educate you or set goals. You probably have friends who are personal trainers, nutritionists, accountants or life coaches. These are good people to have on your team. Respect that their services cost money, but also, don’t be afraid to suggest ways to work with people creatively. If budget is an issue, many self-employed professionals are willing to trade some services to make the overall cost more manageable. Don’t be afraid to ask, but don’t be offended if the person isn’t interested in working that way.
There is no magic pill or formula for instant gratification. Making lasting changes takes time and effort. Celebrate all your victories, even the little ones and don’t be hard on yourself if you have an “off” week. It’s about the big picture, so one week over the course of an entire year (or more) is nothing. Re-focus and get back on track for the following week and be proud of yourself for persevering.
Whatever your goals and resolutions may be you are capable of lasting change. Don’t be overwhelmed by your New Year’s resolutions. They’ll still be there for you in February. Take your time, get organized and then go for it!