After looking at all the kinds of New Year’s resolutions that people make and fail to keep, I thought about why failures happen and what would be helpful to prevent them. I am as guilty of failed resolutions as anyone so I decided this year I would not let those good resolutions fall by the wayside. If that’s truly your intention as well, here are some of the ways I found to help insure your success. While you will often find a few lists of helpful tips, the amount of really useful support out there is much less than you would think. So here I am sharing what I have found and hope it will give you some real assistance.
First let’s start with a word about negativity. Keeping resolutions is hard enough without having your own subconscious sabotaging your efforts. The human subconscious reacts in a peculiar way to negative phrasing. When your subconscious hears all those resolutions with negative wording, “quit” or “stop” or “give up”, it triggers that exact mind set, Stop. The call to action thinking is turned off. Your subconscious, resistant to change, only conveniently hears the stop words. Reprogramming the subconscious is a major undertaking but forming your resolutions in more positive language can help fight that subconscious bias. Make a resolution like “I will eat healthy food” and you subconscious hears “I will”. Eating healthy food will help you both loose weight and and have more energy. It also avoids thoughts of privation that the idea of most diets bring up.
Another thing to consider is the season. Instead of celebrating moderately, people will tend to go overboard and then make rash plans out of guilt. In fact the dead of winter is the worst time to start a diet or embark on an ambitious fitness routine. Less sunlight and colder temperatures cause the body to react by slowing down. While humans don’t need to hibernate to survive the winter, it’s a natural time for mind and body to rest and restore. Those who have a a hard time loosing weight or or getting fit would find their resolutions easier to keep if they made them after an overindulgence of Easter candy. Sunny spring days are much less likely than cold, dark winter ones to discourage you from going out to the gym or taking that morning run. And your metabolism is ramping up again, your body is no longer getting signals to consume calories for energy to survive the winter. so it’s a lot easier to control your appetite and burn the calories you do take in.
The kind of resolutions that fit best around the New Year holiday are those tedious but sedentary activities we are always putting off. Culling your wardrobe or collecting toys your children have outgrown and making a donation will help you start the year with a sense of accomplishment. If you want to get out of debt now is the time to sit down and assess your finances and make a budget or find a counselor or financial advisor. . Getting organized is a top resolution in all the lists and again, this is a good time. The holidays are over and as you pack up the decorations and lights, add a few other things to get organized. Start putting together the things you’ll need for tax filing. Whether you use a preparer or do them yourself it’s much easier to be ready early.
Here is a handy checklist of tips to help you form your resolutions based on what you now know.
1. Be reasonable If you need to loose 50 lbs, you can’t safely do it in two weeks or even a month. Instead aim to loose 10 or 15 lbs in six or eight weeks. If you live in snow country an hour from a gym, skip the membership, get an exercise video or a pair of dumbbells and plan to work out at home. If you want to get out of debt, identify the account with the highest interest rate and focus on that first.
2. Don’t overbook If you feel as though everything is wrong or out of control in your life don’t try fix everything at once. Setting a whole raft of goals is a surefire setup to ensure none of them will be met. You will need focus and concentration to keep even one resolution. Two or three related ones might be workable, but a half a dozen is almost impossible. So think about it and narrow it down. If you want to lose weight, and have more energy so you can do physical activities with your kids, resolve to eat healthier. This will achieve all of those things by focusing on one area and you will be less likely to get distracted.
3. Make it a positive experience Don’t make resolutions from an angry, frustrated or depressed state of mind. We all have problems and issues but if the resolution is linked with negative emotions your subconscious will only read the negativity and not the goal. Frame you resolutions in positive language and take it one day at a time. Promise yourself rewards and do it in a way that keeps you on track, too. If you set a goal of loosing 10 lbs by Valentine’s Day make your reward a dozen roses or an addition to your wardrobe instead of a box of chocolate.
4. Make a plan and write it down As with driving somewhere, you can’t plot a route to your destination if you don’t know where you are starting from. Decide what steps you need to take to get started. Then write down the plan and set milestones for each step. Research has shown those who write down their goals do much better at accomplishing them. For example, if your goal is to save, plan a time to go to your bank and set up a savings account if you don’t have one. Identify and write down what you are really spending your money on. Decide what time of day you have the most time or energy for working out and write in a calendar or put a reminder on your refrigerator. If you know you will need outside help, do some research and find a counselor or support group and make an appointment with them before you start.