There is one thing most people have in abundance on January 1st: motivation. When that clock strikes midnight, we are all motivated to make huge changes in the new year. When we’re talking about clean slates, a shiny new year is as clean of a slate as you can get. And there is nothing more motivating than starting a fresh new year. Enter the New Year’s Resolution. Every year, millions of people set goals for themselves to achieve in the coming year. And setting goals is important because it gives us something to focus on and work towards. But all the motivation in the world will not help us reach these newly set goals without one very important factor: follow-through.
Most of the time, our goals are pretty intimidating: lose weight, be more active, quit smoking, get rid of debt, etc. Big goals are wonderful to have but they’re also really daunting. Waking up on January 1st with an enormous goal can be so overwhelming, you might as well just go back to bed. But with a little planning, you can muster up all the follow-through you’ll need to reach those goals.
A good strategy to keeping your New Year’s resolution, or reaching any goal for that matter, is to start small and build your way up to a big one. That way it's a little easier than starting with one huge goal that may be difficult to reach right away. Let’s face it: we want results and we want them now. And when we don’t get the results we want right away, we give up. We may be successful at first, but once that first temptation comes, or we get sidetracked somehow, we can’t get back on track. We can’t reach that goal. And when we don’t reach it, we get discouraged and give up all together. New Year’s Resolution is over before the end of January.
Not this year! All you have to do is develop your small-step plan and follow-through. For example, if you really want to lose some weight this year, give yourself the goal of losing 5 lbs in January. Then, take a look at your eating and physical activity habits. A good way to do this, before even trying to cut your calories or be more active, is to keep a food and physical activity journal. Write down everything you eat and all of your physical activity for about two weeks to get an idea of your regular habits (make sure your time period includes a weekend!). Write down when, what and how much you eat for every meal and snack, as well as when you are active (if you’re active). Once you know where your trouble spots are, you can take small steps to reach your larger goal of losing weight. If you drink a lot of sugary drinks, for example, one small step would be cutting out one or two sugary sodas a day. Just stick to the plan.
Even with the best intentions, sticking to the program isn’t always doable. An important aspect to reaching a goal is to know when it’s time to ask for help If you want to eat better, hiring a nutritionist to develop better eating habits may be better than trying to figure it out on your own. Seeing a financial planner to help you learn ways to save money and pay off debts can help you be more financially secure. That initial investment will pay off in the long run. If your goal is to be more physically active, perhaps even start a running routine, a good place to start would be to contact a running coach. Working with a coach one-on-one or joining a running program will increase your chances of success immensely. Learning how to get started the right way can help keep you injury free and actually enjoy running. Many people think they can’t run or they hate it because it hurts when they run. Often times, there are small changes you can make that will make running actually enjoyable. There are plenty of coaches and running programs in our area, including yours truly. Already an experienced runner? Sign up for a race you’ve always wanted to do. Registering for a race is one of the best ways to keep motivated and keep running. Find our local races at Race Place.
Being successful isn’t just about reaching those huge goals. That first step is often the hardest to take. Just making the decision to start takes courage. But one step turns into two and before you know it, you’ve reached that first goal. And then the next. Before long, you’ve reached that huge goal and far surpassed everything you thought was possible.
Think of it this way: we all have to start somewhere. There is nothing wrong with taking small steps to accomplish a larger goal. There is more success in taking our time and actually doing what we set out to do than jumping in head first, failing and giving up.
Here’s to a Happy New You in 2013!