It might be fun to make New Year's resolutions at the end of December, but for many people, actually keeping resolutions can quickly turn into a chore. You might have experienced this yourself. Maybe you were excited to lace up your running shoes and hit the gym during the first few weeks of January, but by the time February rolled around, an extra hour of sleep started to take priority over your morning workout. Everyone's been there. So how can you make resolutions that you're actually excited to keep this year?
First, it's important to know that building any new habit takes hard work. No matter how much you love your resolutions, there will probably be days when you don't feel like working towards your goals. That said, there's a lot you can do to ensure you stick with your resolutions this year, and actually enjoy the process most of the time. Here's how you can make New Year's resolutions that stick.
1. Limit the resolutions you set.
The biggest mistake most people make with their New Year's resolutions is setting too many unrealistic goals for the year. You aren't magically going to wake up on the first day of January with a superhuman will and a lot of extra free time, so choose resolutions that will fit into your life the way it is right now. Don't set more than two or three resolutions, and make sure your goals are compatible with your current ability level. In other words, if you haven't worked out in years, don't set a goal to run a nine-minute mile by the end of January.
2. Ask yourself why you chose these resolutions.
If you want to stick with your resolutions (and enjoy them), choose resolutions that matter to you. It's impossible to trick yourself into feeling passionate about something that, deep down inside, you just don't care about.
Think about your motivations for choosing each of your resolutions. A good resolution is one that helps you move towards your overall life goals. If you chose your resolutions just because you didn't know what else to pick or you want to impress somebody, you might want to work on finding different goals that are actually authentic for you.
3. Frame your resolutions in a positive way.
The way you think about your resolutions can make a big difference in whether you keep them or not. Are you looking at your goals with an attitude of growth and improvement - or are you using your resolutions to punish yourself? Self-punishing resolutions are never any fun to stick with, and they can actually be counterproductive. Be kind to yourself when you choose your resolutions, and frame your goals in a way that makes you feel good about yourself and your achievements.
4. Make sure your goals are SMART.
If you want to achieve a goal, you've got to know how to make progress towards it. That's why the best goals are SMART, or specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. The more specific you are about every aspect of your goal, the more likely you'll be to actually reach it.
In practical terms, this means you've got to do a bit of planning. Grab a notebook and a pen, and write each of your resolutions at the top of a page. Underneath, sketch out the specifics of each goal. Figure out how your resolutions will help you in your day-to-day life, decide how you'll measure your progress, and set some time-based milestones for yourself.
5. Make a roadmap.
You've got a destination in mind, but do you know how you'll get there? If not, it's time to dig down into the specifics of how you'll make your resolutions stick.
Start by breaking your big goals down into the smallest pieces you can. If you want to finish a specific distance race next year, for example, figure out how many miles you need to run every month, every week, and every day. Then look for small steps you can take to make it happen, such as how many days can you commit to running and which will be for crosstraining and rest.
After that, figure out how you'll actually work these small steps into your life. The best way to do this is to assign yourself times to do them. For instance, you could plan to make your first training run on the first day of January, and you could set a mini-goal to start running two days a week before work instead of sleeping in for the first month. Breaking your goal into little, realistic steps this way keeps you from burning out or getting overwhelmed.
6. Cultivate a tenacious - but flexible - mindset.
If you go into January with the mindset that you'll fail at keeping your resolutions, you probably will. Increase your odds of sticking with your goals by adopting a tenacious mindset before the year even starts. Remember that a slow, consistent approach will eventually get you where you want to go, and commit to toughing it out through the slow or frustrating times. At the same time, don't put too much pressure on yourself. You might have to change or adjust your plans sometimes, but as long as you keep moving forward, you'll eventually reach your goal.
If you want to keep your New Year's resolutions this year, focus on finding the right goals. Set yourself up for success by choosing just a few important resolutions. Then make a detailed plan for how you'll incorporate them into your life. If you choose your resolutions thoughtfully, you won't have to fight yourself to stick with them, and you could have a lot of progress under your belt this time next year.
Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program. This general information is not intended to diagnose any medical condition or to replace your healthcare professional. Consult with your healthcare professional to design an appropriate exercise routine. If you experience any pain or difficulty with these exercises, stop and consult your healthcare provider.