If you like numbers, like I do, the coming New Year seems to be an ideal day for new beginnings. Pause. Reset. Start back up on a different path.
I think New Year’s Resolutions work, if you make them work. They have worked for me. Last year, I resolved not to smoke cigarettes. I smoked my last on 12/31/2009 and am coming up on my one year anniversary being a non-smoker.
The year before that, I resolved to change my diet and I started counting calories. 114 pounds lost since then, my diet couldn’t be more different. I went from McDonald’s to clean, vegetarian home-cooking in moderate, reasonable portions.
It isn’t the date that will make you successful, it’s determination. It’s the difference between motivation and inspiration. Many people are inspired by the change in year to make easily forgotten oaths. Only some are ready to actually follow through.
You determine your own success. Here are some simple steps you can take to make your New Year’s Resolutions a reality:
- Make your goals realistic and attainable. For example, I decided to lose 100 pounds, no matter how long it took.
- Make specific goals. Do put a number on it. Make it very clear what the goal is. If you can’t measure it, it isn’t a good resolution. If the goal is weight loss, choose a realistic number of pounds. Remember, you can always adjust when you get there. Or choose a jeans size you’d like to fit into. Write it down.
- Don’t make too many resolutions all at once. If they are related (Lose weight and Exercise, for example) then it makes sense to do two at once. But it will be overwhelming to Lose Weight, Exercise, Quit Smoking, Pay Off Debt, and Learn a Language all at once. If you get going on a few good new habits, you can add more when you’re comfortable.
- Take it seriously. It’s up to you whether you will be one of the “resolutioners” at the gym who come for a month and then disappear or a new regular who watches the resolutioners come and go each year.
- Tell someone about your resolution. Better yet: tell multiple people. This makes you accountable.
- Ask someone to remind you about your resolution in a few weeks, a month, and two months.
- Be confident. You can meet your goals. Know that a slip-up doesn’t equal failure unless you give up. In fact, you may as well expect to slip-up at some point. That’s just life. Nobody is perfect.
- Take concrete steps. Nothing just happens. You have to make it happen. Join a gym, join a diet website, make a plan. Start educating yourself right now, before 1/1. Maybe you’d like to make an appointment with a nutritionist or trainer. Before I do anything, I “research” it (I google the hell out of it!)
- Inspiration will fade, and that’s where the hard work comes in. Motivation doesn’t come in pill form. You have to do things to enhance your motivation along the way. Track your progress. Maybe you chart your weight history. If you quit smoking, maybe you cross off days on the calendar. Set up a way to reward yourself at certain milestones. Talk to those who live and work with you about helping you create an environment that will help you succeed.
Above all, if I could give one piece of advice it would be not to be discouraged by past failures. I’ve finally been successful after years of trying and failing. In fact, I no longer think of all those other times I quit smoking or tried to lose weight as failure. I think of them as practice runs. I tried all the wrong ways to lose weight, and eventually, the only thing left to try was the right way. It can be your time if you choose it to be!