Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick

Written by Lynn Bode, CFT

ny-2013The New Year is upon us. Do you have a New Year’s Resolution? Well, if you’re like most North Americans you have at least one resolution. And, if you are like the majority of these promise-makers, your resolution is probably related to health and fitness. For many it is a promise to eat healthier, exercise more, and  lose weight.

While resolutions are well-intentioned, unfortunately most people fail at keeping them. With all the hype surrounding these promises, it’s easy to get caught up in it without really taking them seriously.

Set yourself up for success

We live in a throw-away society and even our resolutions, I’m afraid, are not immune. However, when it comes to promises that include improving our health, it’s in our best interest not to take them lightly.

So, what’s the secret to successful resolutions? While you can’t wave a magic wand and make your resolution come true, there are some easy steps to take that will make it easier to fulfill your promise to yourself.

  • Choose an obtainable goal. Resolving to look like a super model is not realistic for the majority of us, but promising to include daily physical activity in our lives is very possible.
  • Avoid choosing a resolution that you’ve been unsuccessful at achieving year after year. This will only set you up for failure, frustration and disappointment. If you are still tempted to make a promise that you’ve made before, then try altering it. For example, instead of stating that you are going to lose 30 pounds, try promising to eat healthier and increase your weekly exercise.
  • Create a game plan. At the beginning of January, write a comprehensive plan. All successful businesses start with a business plan that describes their mission and specifics on how they will achieve it. Write your own personal plan and you’ll be more likely to succeed as well.
  • Break it down and make it less intimidating. Rather than one BIG end goal, dissect it into smaller pieces. Set several smaller goals to achieve throughout the year that will help you to reach the ultimate goal. Then, even if you aren’t able to reach your final goal, you will have many smaller, but still significant, achievements along the way. For example, if your goal is to complete a 10K race, your smaller goals could be running a 5K in less than 30 minutes, adding upper and lower body strength training to increase your muscular endurance, and running 2 miles with a personal best completion time.
  • Ask friends and family members to help you so you have someone to be accountable to. Just be sure to set limits so that this doesn’t backfire and become more irritating than helpful. For example, if you resolve to be more positive ask them to gently remind you when you start talking negatively.
  • Reward yourself with each milestone. If you’ve stuck with your resolution for 2 months, treat yourself to something special. But, be careful of your reward type. If you’ve lost 5 pounds, don’t give yourself a piece of cake as an award. Instead, treat yourself to something non-food related, like a professional massage.
  • Don’t go it alone! Get professional assistance. Everyone needs help and sometimes a friend just isn’t enough. Sometimes you need the help of a trained professional. Don’t feel that seeking help is a way of copping out. Especially when it comes to fitness, research studies have shown that assistance from a fitness professional greatly improves people’s success rate.
  • Limit your number of promises. You’ll spread yourself too thin trying to make multiple changes at the same time. This will just lead to failure of all of the resolutions.

On average only about 20% of us keep our New Year’s resolutions. Unfortunately, some of the biggest failures are found in fitness resolutions. But don’t let the statistics get you down. By following the tips above you’ll be better equipped to fall into the successful 20% category.

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