We are about four weeks into the New Year. How are your resolutions coming along?? I see you are eating those leafy greens, hitting the gym every day and doing your best to stop listing things in threes in everything you write. Oh wait, that was the first week of January, right? Four weeks into January we are well into classes; back on campus with our packets of ramen and shivering under blankets instead of working out because turning the heat on just isn’t worth that $400 energy bill every month. Believe me, I’ve been there. In fact, I am there. I had two packets of ramen yesterday.
So how do you do it? How do you set awesome New Year’s Resolutions and stick to them? Well here I am going to give you all a few helpful hints to doing just that. I do want to preface by saying it isn’t going to be easy. Keep in mind that forming habits can take weeks and weeks, not necessarily including relapses.
1. Make SMART Goals:
This means Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely. When you make a resolution to “eat more vegetables,” it is almost doomed to fail because it is not measurable. How much is ‘more’ to you? Saying instead, “I want to eat three more servings of vegetables a week,” is specific, measurable, and in most cases realistic and attainable.
Your goals should be timely, meaning you set up a timeline for them. If you want to eat three more servings of vegetables a week, figure out when. For example, start on January 1st and eat those three extra servings on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday.
2. Don’t make New Year’s Resolutions:
Wait, what? Isn’t this supposed to be about how to make effective resolutions? Yes. And sometimes that means skipping out on the traditional New Year’s Resolutions and springing for resolutions and lifestyle changes when they are most convenient to you. A huge part of making a healthy lifestyle change is the “Contemplation” stage. This is before you set definite goals. Instead you are considering what changes need to be made in your life and what the best way to do it is. Most of us make our “resolutions” a couple of hours before the clock strikes midnight. This is not enough time to create lasting changes.
My advice is set those goals when they will work out best. Maybe that means starting in the beginning of a new semester, summer, or on March 13th. The important thing is to set goals and times that work for your life.
3. Tell your roommates and friends:
I made a resolution to finish a workout calendar and so far I have done every single day. Okay, sometimes I skipped a day and had to do two days’ worth of videos in one, but I’m keeping up! A huge factor to my current success is that when I came back to school my roommates started doing the videos with me. This was really encouraging because I had people to hold me accountable and the time seems to go by faster when we are failing together.
4. Treat Yourself:
Maybe this means putting a cute sticker on your calendar every day you work out. Or it means every time you hit a new goal you treat yourself to a nice dinner. Perhaps you just allow yourself to indulge in that extra episode of Doctor Who on Netflix. You are on your way to making lasting lifestyle changes, it’s good to reward yourself every once in a while.
5. Accept Life’s Difficulties:
Hey, sometimes your goals don’t always work out. That’s okay! Maybe it wasn’t that realistic for where you are right now. Just head back to the drawing board and figure out what went wrong and what can be done to achieve results next time. Relapsing is sometimes an integral part to making healthy lifestyle changes. So think of it as an opportunity to improve.
I leave you with these tips and your dreams of a healthy tomorrow. Good luck with your resolutions. I believe each and every one of you can achieve them if you put the work into it. As Earl Nightingale so eloquently said, “never give up on a dream because of the time it takes to achieve it. The time will pass anyway.”
Happy New Year.