Create realistic goals and stay motivated in 2017.
Let’s just get it out there: New Year’s resolutions do not have a good track record. By the second week of February, more than 80 percent of those who make resolutions have already failed at them, according to U.S. News and World Report.
Part of this low success rate is due to the simple fact that it’s easier to say than to do, which means your first step in keeping your resolutions is to change your mindset about them. Think of them as lifestyle changes, establish new rituals to support them, and you’ll be more likely to stick with them.
It’s just a few days into the new year. Sure, you could resolve to hit it hard at the gym every day for the next 360+ days. It’s a worthy resolution (minus the consecutive days of workouts and the duration), but while the gym is a full house the first week of January, those who set out with unrealistic goals (does the life you want and the fitness you desire really require a daily visit to the health club?) are the ones who fail first. Set achievable goals that fit your lifestyle and be creative with them. Here are a few to spur your motivation, and none of them include “lose 10 pounds.”
1. Stop fast junk food
According to Nielsen, an organization that studies global consumer trends, 37 percent of people in 2015 made resolutions to be healthier in 2016. While you could go big and vow to eat only fresh food, you might have better success by taking a step back. Swear off fast junk food.
This will require you to say no to social eats sometimes. It will mean you have to pack a lunch for work (or hit up the farmer’s market or local Whole Foods salad bar) and it’ll mean you have to plan ahead when you have late nights at the office. But when you don’t tempt yourself with a milkshake and fries from In-N-Out Burger, you’re putting yourself in a much better position to make healthier decisions.
Make it easier by making it fun. Take a cooking class, alone or with a friend or partner. Buy into a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) where you get fresh fruits and veggies each week. Or if you’re not much of a maven in the kitchen, check out BlueApron or Freshly for pre-prepped meals. Here’s a look at other meal services.
2. Say “thank you” more and be nice
Life is busy, and some days you’re lucky if you get a break for lunch. So it’s no surprise you don’t stop to contemplate all the things you have to be thankful for. Make gratitude a daily or weekly practice by starting a gratitude journal. At the very least, keep a Post-it note on your phone. Write a note or leave it blank, either way, it’ll remind you throughout the day to say thank you. Thank the barista who made your coffee delicious; thank the cleaning lady who comes into your office just as you leave for the day; thank your best friend for always being available for a quick phone call no matter the hour. If you have a lot to be grateful for, say so.
And don’t forget to be patient and kind to others.
You’ll never regret going the extra mile to help someone out or make a stranger’s day.
3. Push yourself the smart way
It’s not just about working out. Of course, that’s a worthy goal, but create a success ramp – don’t overwhelm your body, or your life by going too big too soon. Instead, just get going — slow and steady. Make specific goals you can look forward to and measure and mark off your calendar, like training for an event or setting a new personal record by the end of the year.
To do this, increase your distance, weight, intensity, etc. by 10 percent each week. If you can only run two miles now, increase it to 2.2 miles the next week. Building on each week will mean you can clearly see your gains, which will motivate you to keep moving forward.
4. Give your savings account a little love
If you’re making mental, physical and emotional health priorities this year, your financial health deserves a seat at the resolution table too. Use an app like Wally or Mint to help you budget your income, pay off debt and put money into savings each month. Even a small amount of dough each month adds up come the end of the year!
Think about trading that $5 afternoon latte habit for home-brewed tea you make yourself and you can stock up a good amount of money in no time. Start small!
5. Practice self-care and schedule your annual appointments
It’s hard to convince yourself you have to go to the doctor when you’re not sick. But going to your M.D. when you’re well keeps you well. Your annual exams will be less tempting to skip if you call to schedule them right away.
This January, set aside a lunch break to call your must-see doctors. Get in to see your dentist for a cleaning, make time for the once-over with your dermatologist and pencil in that physical with your primary care. Yes, they’re dreaded, but if you book them all on the same few days, you can knock out all of them at once (and then treat yourself to a pedicure). Even if you don’t actually go to your annual exams until the spring, they’ll be on the books!
Give 2017 a run for its money with smart, realistic and achievable resolutions.