Here it comes, a new year. Time to make-over your wallet, your waistline, clean out your closet, get back in touch with long-lost friends, mend relationships with family, find your true love, plan an amazing vacation and land your dream job, all while taking more time for yourself, reading more books and OF COURSE, going to the gym.
It’s completely normal when the clock strikes midnight to want to revamp everything in your life to make you a new and improved person. But how many times have you made those same resolutions to forget them all by February? How can you make THIS year, 2014, the year that you succeed?
It’s actually a lot easier than you think. The most important thing is to make SMART resolutions. First of all, let’s not call them “resolutions,” let’s call them goals. Resolutions tend to have a negative context of deprivation or “cutting back”, which puts a bad taste in your mouth right off the bat.
Now let’s talk specifics. If one of your goals are like most everyone else, to get healthy, get in shape or get fit this year, then your goal needs revised. Yes, I am a dietitian, and I’m telling you to throw your “get fit” goal out the window. The "get fit" goal never works because it’s not measurable. How do you achieve getting healthy or getting “in-shape?” Maybe you think getting healthy means having normal cholesterol numbers or getting down to a normal weight, or getting in-shape as being able to do 20 TRX Spiderman pushups– then THAT is your goal. To make a meaningful goal for 2014, define what it is for you that means getting fit or getting in shape, and make that your goal. Put a number on it, and put a time-frame on it. If getting in shape to you means being able to walk up the 4 flights of stairs to your office without huffing and puffing by March, then THAT is your goal. So, step one: make goals, not resolutions, and make them specific.
The second step to making sure your reach your 2014 goals is to make sure they mean something to you. It's not as automatic as it sounds. Many people make their resolutions because it’s what other people want them to do, or to be, or not to be. Your goals have to be for YOU, not for your significant other, not for your doctor, not for your family. If your spouse wants you to stop smoking, but you know deep down you’re not ready and it’s not truly what YOU want, then you can’t make that a goal for yourself. If your doctor wants you to lose 20 lbs but you could care less what the scale says, then that’s not a meaningful goal to you. If you really want to get into a 2 piece bathing suit and feel comfortable in your own skin by the time your summer cruise comes around, then that is your goal. If you want to be able to pick up your grandkids and push them on the swings without back pain or feeling out of breath, then THAT is your goal. Figure out what you truly want to accomplish, not what others tell you you should want to accomplish.
The third step to achieving your goals this year is to be realistic. If you didn’t step foot in the gym one time last year, please don’t make your goal to attend 10 Fitness With Insight classes per week. That’s just not realistic. If you’ve never cooked a meal at home and your goal is to cook dinner 7 nights a week, you’re setting yourself up for failure. A better goal would be to get to a TRX class 3 days a week, walk on your home treadmill or around the block 2 days a week and cook dinner at home 3 days a week (making enough leftovers for 2 nights worth of meals). Leave one day per week open for eating out or ordering in when you're super busy or just ready for a treat. Also, if you absolutely hate walking on the treadmill in the garage, don't make that part of your goal! The goal is not to inflict as much punishment on yourself as possible in 2014. Find something you love and make those activities part of your goal.
Being realistic also means not making 15 different goals all at once. Make 3 or 4 big ones and concentrate on those until you’ve achieved them. If May comes around and you’ve hit 3 of the 4, then you can start focusing on new goals or other areas of your life. Overwhelming yourself with too many goals or giving yourself unrealistic expectations is the number one reason for failure.
Step four: Write it down. Don’t just dream it up and forget it. Get an old-fashioned pen and paper, write it out and stick it on the fridge. Don’t hide your goals when you have friends over. Let them be known and hold yourself accountable. Keep track of your progress. Every time you get closer to achieving that goal, write it down on that piece of paper. Enlist a goal buddy or buddies. Share each others goals, keep in touch and give encouragement when needed. When you figure out what your big goals are, make smaller goals with a time-frame in mind to help you achieve your big goals. For example, if one of your goals for 2014 is to cut down on the clutter in your house, a weekly goal would be to throw away or donate 5 things you don’t use per week. Making weekly goals will force you to go back and look at your overall goals and keep them fresh in your mind.
The most important thing is to make goals that are going to make you feel good. Of course, eating healthfully and exercising automatically helps with that, but if resolving to cut down on your restaurant rendezvous with your girlfriends causes you more stress than happiness, turn it into a positive goal like finding a healthy cooking class to join with your friends or starting a Saturday morning run ritual with your best buds.
So tonight, keep these steps in mind as you’re thinking about your new goals and feel free to have a glass of champagne and a smile to toast to the amazing year that lies ahead.