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Monday, December 1, 2014

3 Steps to Owning Your Resolutions This Year



The New Year always feels like a fresh start. When that ball drops, anything seems possible. That energized, “I can tackle anything,” mentality is like a high you know you’ll ride to all the way to your happiest, fittest self. For those first few sweet weeks, 5am doesn’t seem too early for the gym, sugar doesn’t even taste as sweet and those old bad habits seem to have stayed in hibernation.

Enter February. That jerk knocks you right off that pretty little high you’ve been riding and stomps your goals into the frozen mud under a grey Pittsburgh sky. “Four weeks in this year,” you think. “Not bad. Next year for sure.”

It’s time to break the cycle. 2015 is the year that you’re going reach your goals. It took you a lifetime to build the habits that you have. The decision and will to change are a great start, but they likely won’t carry you all the way to the finish line. To make sure you reach your goals this year, follow these three simple steps. Let’s use weight loss as the example.

1.      Identify the what – then figure out the why
The motivation to change can make or break your commitment to your goal. Weight loss will only motivate you for so long. The underlying reason you want to lose weight is the prize you win for reaching your goal. The goal itself is usually not enough to motivate you to make long term sacrifices to your sleep, or to step away from unhealthier foods and habits that you’re comfortable with. To find your underlying reason for change, state your goal and then ask yourself why you want to achieve it three times. The progression might look something like this:

Goal (what): I want to lose ten pounds.
Why 1: I want to feel better in my clothes and out of them.
Why 2: I want to feel more confident about the way I look.
Why 3: So that when I’m out with friends, I can focus more on what I’m doing than how I look when I do it.

The outward goal is to lose ten pounds but the real motivation and true desire is to feel self expressed in every interaction without the distraction of worrying about your outward appearance.

2.      Once you have the ‘why,’ work backwards to discover the ‘how’
Once you know what you want, it’s easy to make the decision to change everything in order to get there. In doing this, you’re setting yourself up for failure. It’s incredibly difficult to change many things at once and stick with it. Instead, once you’ve identified where you’d like to ultimately be, identify one or two things that you can do in the next two weeks to get you closer. Going back to the example of losing ten pounds, assuming you aren’t currently exercising, a reasonable change in the next two weeks might be to exercise once or twice each week. Once you feel comfortable with one step, you can increase it, or add another. The aim is to build a foundation of small changes that will get you closer to your goal without completely overhauling your life in the short term. This method is unnerving to some, as making small changes over time may mean delaying the instant gratification of greater change in the short term. Making small changes over a longer period of time however, is more effective in creating habits that will enable you to reach your goals and maintain your new lifestyle habits in the long term. 

3.      Forget failure
The only way to fail is to quit trying. Abandon the idea of failure, forget cheat days and ditch deprivation. Although change requires discipline, it requires even more flexibility. There are going to be weeks where everything works out and you get closer to your goal by the minute. There will also be many days where nothing goes right and you feel like you’ll never get there. The key is to shift your mentality around the latter. If you view each messy day as a failure, you’re much more likely to abandon your efforts. When you adopt the mentality of flexibility, the off days aren’t as big a deal because you know you can do better your next meal and that tomorrow is another day to hit the gym. The more you allow yourself room to mess up without the mental beating you’re used to, the more likely you are to keep going. 

Remember that the decision to make changes to your lifestyle can be intimidating and sometimes isolating. Making smaller changes and having patience with your progress can help reduce the stress around making these changes. Feel the fear and keep going. 

How will you make your goals work for you this year?

1 comment :

  1. Thank you for writing this informative blog post, this will definitely come in handy. Three easy steps to a firm and perfect resolution. Keep writing more of such posts

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