Now that January has wound to a close and February has begun, we are officially a month into 2017. This means a lot of things. It means one less month of winter, it means that the days are steadily getting longer (which I think we can all appreciate), and it means that spring is around the corner.
It also means that a lot of New Years Resolutions are getting thrown out the window as we move from one month to the next. As someone who has given up on many New Years’ resolutions in the past, I feel like I can call myself a bit of an expert on the subject.
So here you are, the beginning of February, probably pretty tired, trying to figure out how the hell you’re supposed to keep up a resolution with all the other things stressing you out, both at home and with the world at large.
Resolutions are usually pretty challenging to keep; otherwise, you’d have already done it, right?
Well, together with Dr. Maggie Fox (foxnaturalmedicine.com), we’ve come up with some things to keep in mind while setting out to complete your 2017 Resolutions.
- Set realistic goals. While it’s good to have a ‘reach for the stars’ mentality while creating your dreams and goals, it’s also important to remember that it’s OK to take small steps too. You don’t have to have your resolution completed by February. You have as much time to achieve your goals as you want. It can be one year; it can be five. The most important thing is to create realistic steps, figure out what you need to do to accomplish your goal, and then implement that plan in a way practical way that will get it accomplished.
- For example, let’s say your resolution is to become ‘healthier.’ That’s a broad goal, and it can seem pretty daunting when facing it head-on. So decide what it means to you. Does it mean eating better foods? Is it exercising more? Is it cooking more meals at home rather than eating out? Is it getting to sleep earlier? Maybe all of the above? Don’t feel like you have to jump into the deep end right away.
- If you want to eat better, then make February your ‘Veggie Month’ by adding more vegetables to your diet. Once you have that goal down, add to it, make the next month ‘Less Starch Month.’ If your goal is getting to bed by 10 pm every night, then every week, get to bed 15 mins earlier until you’ve reached your desired bedtime. Take it slow, take small steps. You don’t just want to reach your goal; you want to create a foundation in which your goals become a part of your everyday life.
- Be honest with yourself. So you’re not doing great with your New Years’ resolution, that’s OK. So you cheat on your resolution once in a while, that’s fine. Maybe it’s not even your resolutions; perhaps it’s other things in your life that aren’t going very well, roll with it. So you trip up once in a while, you have that cigarette, or that cookie, or you don’t go to the gym even though you swore to yourself you would. Life is hard, and it’s OK to mess up once in a while. Just remember that it’s a thin line between messing up ‘once in a while,’ and waking up one day to realize that you haven’t gone to the gym in three months, or begun writing that story that you love, or gone to even one day of the $300 class that you paid for (and there are only two classes left). Not everything goes according to plan; you’re going to trip up. Just make sure to ask yourself whether or not this is a one time slip, or are you falling back into the behavior that you want to change?
- Don’t think that you need to do everything yourself. It’s OK to ask for help. Resolutions aren’t always easy to accomplish. Sometimes you might need a push, or some help to stick with your goals. Maybe it’s getting a friend to go to the gym with you, a teacher, to show you something new, or a doctor to help you create a health plan. Join a meetup, a class, a club, or find a friend or a family member who’s wanting to achieve the same goal as you, support each other and get support in return. Share success and setbacks. You’re not alone, and you don’t have all the answers (as much as you might like to think you do). Maybe you’ve been doing the same thing over and over again unsuccessfully, asking for help will not just get you encouragement, but also open your eyes up to new possibilities, opportunities, and ways to achieve your goals.
- Make it Fun. So often our New Years Resolutions are things that we think we ‘have’ to do. We have to exercise to lose weight, we have to eat better to live healthier, we have to quit an addiction to live longer, we have to spend frugally now so we can travel later. It sometimes feels like a lot of effort for little reward, especially since a lot of New Years Resolutions don’t have instant gratification. That’s why it’s so important to find ways to have fun while also achieving your goal. Instead of joining a gym, take a dance class, invite friends over on the weekends and cook healthy meals together, reward yourself with a nice meal if you’ve done well, or a spa day if you’ve only messed up once, visit cool things around your city while you’re saving up to see the world. A Resolution doesn’t have to be a chore, remember, this isn’t something you have to get done, this is something you want to do. Change your attitude, and it won’t seem as hard as it did before.
Following through on a New Years Resolution is hard work, and it’s common for people to let it fall to the bottom of the list when faced with the hectic stress that is everyday life (I know I’ve given up on mine for a less of a reason), but it doesn’t have to be hard. Create small goals, be honest with yourself about your success, find support, make it fun, and you’ll be surprised to see how much easier it becomes