We’ve all done it before. Come New Year’s Eve, we take a moment or two to reflect on the past year and consider what we want the next one to look like. We make plans to better ourselves, challenge our thinking, overcome bad habits and take care of our health. But more often than not, those plans don’t survive the first week of January. There is no better intention than to improve one’s health.
Here are 3 easy tips to help you stay on track with your New Year’s Resolution:
1. Make Your Health Goals Practical and Achievable
An easy way to lose steam and get off track is by setting goals that are impossible to achieve. Setting unrealistic goals will make you become discouraged and even feel bad about yourself. If you have a resolution in mind, make sure it’s a realistic goal. Instead of attempting to drop 30 pounds in 30 days, why not make a weight loss plan that is practical, healthy and fun? If you’re as busy as the rest of the world, losing that much weight in a month is next to impossible, let alone extremely unhealthy. Ever heard of a SMART Goal? It’s the perfect way to turn your dreams into practical and achievable goals.
2. Give Yourself Enough Time
Getting out of bad habits isn’t easy. They didn’t start overnight, so don’t expect to break them overnight either. Some professionals have calculated that 21 days is all it takes to change a habit. While that number is up for debate and may change from person to person, we think that it’s a reasonable timeframe to help break a habit.
If your New Year’s resolution is to be more active, first decide what specifically you will need to do to achieve that goal, and give yourself 21 days to make it happen. It sounds simple enough, but if you’re like the rest of us, it’s easy to lose steam after a few days. It feels unnatural, tiring and out of your comfort zone. After day 4 or 5 you may be craving the old way of things, the old patterns. Although there is a part of you that still wants to commit to a healthier lifestyle, the urge to slip into the old ways might have a stronger pull.
Before getting started, give yourself a date of completion. We recommend – you guessed it – 21 days! Tell yourself from the very beginning that you will be more active for just 21 days. If, on the 21st day, you realize you were much happier in your old lifestyle, you can at least pride yourself on the fact that you accomplished your goals. However, if you realize that your recent upsurge in physical activity has made you feel better, look better and has given you a whole new vitality and zest for life, you can always extend that to another 21 days, and so on. Considering all the benefits of physical activity, we have a feeling that 21 days will be more than enough to get you hooked on a healthier lifestyle.
3. Try and Try Again
Stepping out of old habits and into new ones can make anyone feel unsafe and unsure. Creating New Year’s resolutions is about recognizing areas in our lives that could use some improvement. Actually implementing those changes is where it gets tough. No matter what your goal is — whether it’s eating more vegetables, quitting smoking, or taking the stairs more often — it’s natural that you might experience a few slips. Don’t beat yourself up. Expecting perfection is setting yourself up for failure. Use your “slips” as learning experiences and recognize what caused the setbacks, how it made you feel, and how you can prevent them in the future.
But don’t give up altogether. The road to better health is long and winding, not straight and narrow. If you don’t accept that sometimes you’ll face tough challenges, you’ll never make it past January. Anyone who has successfully quit smoking can tell you that getting it right the first time is next to impossible. Setbacks are part of the process.
Some of you might not have set any goals yet — and that’s OK. It’s never too late to start. How about something simple like focusing on eating healthier? This article about the importance of nutrition in your daily life will point you in the right direction.