Before you jump into your New Year’s resolutions, try this
The beginning of a new year can be an exciting time. We start the year feeling motivated about all the big changes we’ll make in the coming months. However, many of us finding that motivation fading by the end of February.
I truly believe that one of the biggest reasons we don’t keep these resolutions is because we jump right in and end up feeling overwhelmed.
This year, take some time to come up with a plan that can help set you up for success. Here are a few steps to get started.
Try a positive change. When we start telling ourselves we can’t do something, it feels a little restrictive and can actually be demotivating. By reframing the behavior as something healthy you can add to your life, you’re starting on a more positive note that won’t make you feel deprived. For example, if you want to stop eating dessert, try adding in more fruits and vegetables at meals first. If you want to stop watching tv at night, try adding in a walk or another form of physical activity. Start paying attention to the benefits of making these positive changes, and you’ll feel more motivated to keep them going.
Figure out your real “why”. When you think about your goal for the upcoming year, dig a little deeper and determine why this goal is important to you. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, think about how you will feel and what you can accomplish once you reach that goal. Maybe you want to be able to be more active with your family or feel more confident. Often, the underlying reason for wanting to reach that goal is more motivational because it connects us to our core values. When life starts to get busy, remembering your “why” can help you keep going.
Create a plan. Jumping right into a new behavior can end up being frustrating and overwhelming. Instead, try breaking your goal down into small, manageable steps. When working with health coaching clients, I ask them what actions they would need to take in order to accomplish their goal and then to pick the three most important. That’s the starting point. Once you have those actions, you can turn them into short-term goals. Try weekly goals or monthly goals so that you start establishing habits and see some progress. As you start to accomplish these shorter-term goals, you’ll build confidence towards reaching your overall goal.
Find a way to stay accountable. Tracking your goals helps you stay focused. I encourage clients to try writing in a journal so that they can also note what helped support them and what was challenging. Think of this as a learning opportunity. When you find that something supported your goal, you can use that strategy in the future. If something was challenging, try coming up with a plan to overcome that challenge if it comes up again. Many people also find it motivating to look back and see how far they’ve come during the year.
About the Author
Sarah Sommer is the wellness coordinator at the Advocate BroMenn Health & Fitness Center in Bloomington, IL. She completed her MPH at the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana with a concentration in health behavior and promotion. Sarah enjoys helping people define what health and wellness means to them and supporting them during their journey.