The Myth of the New Year's Resolution
It happens every year. We all declare some grandiose plan such as "This is my year! I will finally lose 10 pounds!," or "This year I'm not going to drink every night," or "This year I really will go to the gym 3 times a week." Then, by February we're back to old habits. We've stepped on the scale and "Uh OH." We've looked back at our workouts on Beyond the Whiteboard and have only made it to 15 classes since Jan.
There's nothing wrong with making New Year's Resolutions. The New Year is a natural transition time. It's a time for us to reflect and challenge ourselves to be better. The problem with most New Year's Resolutions is that we make a big fat hairy goal and we have no idea how to achieve it.
If you want to make your New Year's Resolution stick until the spring, you need to break it down it manageable steps. In other words, you need to shrink the change.
Let's say your New Year's Resolution is to eat better. First define what that means. Are you eating Paleo? Are you eating only low-insulin foods? Are you eating vegan? You need to decide what eating better means for you, because I can assure you that my definition of eating better is very different from yours.
Next, decide why you need to eat better. Do you want to do it because you believe it will make you feel better or look better? Write that down. This is your WHY and you need to be super clear about it.
Next, decide how you will know if you're successful. You want this to be something you can measure. It can be weight, inches, your ability to do 70 burpees in 7 minutes, whatever. It just needs to be meaningful to you and something you can measure.
Once you've defined your goal, developed why you're doing it, and determined what success looks like (through measurements), let's assign a timeline to it. Do you want to start eating better today? Do you want to start eating better next week? Put some time constraints on it, and determine when you'll know yo've been successful. Then, shrink the change. Eating better all at once can bet overwhelming.
What if you commit to eating just one meal per day according to your new eating better standard? Eat one "good" meal every day for a week. Then in week two start eating 2 "good" meals every day. Then, in week, 3 increase that to 16 meals for the entire week. This will give you 80% "good" meals. This is a better strategy than 3 "good" meals everyday for a week because well, life happens. Commit to 16 healthy and amazing meals every week for two weeks and see how you feel.
Then measure your success. If you're not where you wanted to be reassess your processes. Perhaps you really do need to eat 90% of your meals according to your new standard. Or, perhaps 80% if just perfect. You're making progress and you can still go out to Map Brewery after skiing. Win Win!
New Year's Resolutions can be motivating and fun. However, motivation alone is not enough to make us commit to a goal. We need small successes that build into larger successes that create huge, fantastic momentum. Success will keep your motivation high, not the other way around.
So set your New Year's Resolution up for success! Shrink the change and make your resolution measurable and time bound. Let's see how many of us can stick with our New Year's Resolutions until our April Check-ins!
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