Resolutions Smesolutions

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

I may have mentioned before that I'm not a huge fan of New Year's resolutions. I think that it's important to recognize that you are fully capable of making a resolution right this second, this very day of the year, this singular moment before the next bite reaches your mouth. I think that the "I'll start on Monday" mentality is, please forgive me, lazy. It's a giant excuse not to take control of your own habits, bodies, responsibilities and health that you have full authority over. I like to keep in the practice of making resolutions the second I think of them. I don't wait until Monday, I begin with my next meal or transaction.

However, I do appreciate the freshness that the New Year offers. The feeling of vitality all around you, the fresh outlook, that sense of starting over. Plus every business everywhere capitalizes on the New Year, so you might as well take advantage of those gym fee waivers and exercise equipment sales if you're going that route.

I would like to offer a few tips from my own experience at forming New Year's resolutions every year since I've understood the concept. Hey, just because I don't agree with waiting until the New Year to tackle your ambitions doesn't mean that I don't like to use the date as a great time to re-evaluate where I'm going. So, my advice is to try to:

1. Practice your New Year's resolutions a week or more in advance. This gives you a chance to work out the kinks, rework your schedule, and adjust the picture before you even start. If you plunge ahead on Jan 1 without any practice, it's all too easy to fall for the all-or-nothing cop-out. My resolution for 2011 is to read through the Bible and I started in November so that I have plenty of "padding" for those days I know I'll miss. Given enough time, I was able to find this Bible podcast and these complementary sermons that I can listen to while I'm working. Through this early trial, I also figured out that reading two Bible companions in tandem with the Bible readings is overkill and I know I cannot dedicate myself to that much cross-referencing and reading right now.

2. Jot down every obstacle you can foresee on one side of a piece of paper. On the other side, brainstorm solutions for overcoming those obstacles. Without a Plan B, failure will be that much easier. On the other hand, if you know exactly what your action plan will be, you won't hesitate to keep going. There WILL be obstacles.

3. Write about your efforts, vocalize your goals, and gather your cheerleaders. If you keep your resolutions inside your head, you have only yourself to hold you accountable. When you put your plan in print, you are solidifying it and making it real. You are reminded of your efforts with every glance where memory may have failed you. Start a blog centered around your resolutions like her, write a few goals on a Post-it® attached to your computer screen, or enlist a friend to check in on you. The more you talk about it, the more concrete the idea will be in your mind.

4. Visualize yourself successfully completely your goals with every inch of your being. Taste the sweat, hear the crowd cheering and those compliments, touch the rope at the finish line, see yourself in your new fitted clothes and experience the entire thing down to the sensory details. If in your mind you've already succeeded, then you know for sure that success is not impossible. And once you immerse yourself in that feeling of accomplishment, nothing will stop you from getting there. It feels too good.

5. Do some research. It's a whole lot easier to jump into something on Jan 1 when you know what will be expected of you. Print off that 5k training plan, read others' success stories, track your spending for a month or two before implementing a budget, and become familiar with the terms and equipment at the gym so you can nail your resolutions head-on, without hesitation. Know exactly what you're getting yourself into--or out of!

6. But don't over-plan! You are not likely to be successful at losing weight if you immediately plan to track every morsel down to the almond, subscribe to three magazines, join every online weight loss community you come across, buy piles of complicated equipment, join a gym and forgo entire food groups unless you have some sort of rare iron-clad dedication. You're setting yourself up for failure if you plan to form a million new habits at once. The most successful dieters use baby steps to achieve their goals. Implement one new measurable strategy per week such as drinking two extra glasses of water, walking 2,000 extra steps, putting away 25 extra dollars, sending out three extra resumes, or using a smaller dinner plate. Continue with what works, chuck what doesn't. I can practically guarantee that by December, or maybe even July, you will reap the rewards of all those baby steps put together.

7. Don't let your imperfections or shortcomings derail your entire plan. Who says you can't change or rewrite your goals in February to better suit your lifestyle? Certainly not me!

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