It’s 2019. This means we look to the new year to be better than the last and try to better ourselves, be more successful and live a happier life. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s a good thing to want to be a better person. No one is the perfect version of themselves, because perfect doesn’t exist. Never aim to be perfect, you’ll fail every time. But being the best possible version of yourself is doable. And so in the new year we traditionally make resolutions, “I’m going to work out”, “I’m going to quit smoking”, “I’m going to be more positive”. But the resolutions we make rarely last more than a few weeks if we’re lucky. Gyms are full in January with people who resolved to lose weight or work out more and steadily those numbers drop off. But why? Why can’t we stick to these resolutions that are supposed to be good for us and make us better people? I think there’s a couple of reasons.
Resolutions are based on expectations
Most of the time when someone makes a resolution it’s based on what we think is expected. We’re expected to go to the gym and be healthy, we’re expected to quit smoking, we’re expected be better than we are. Basing your decisions on what other’s expectations are is aiming for failure. When we decide to do something it has to be for ourselves. Resolving to change yourself or your habits based on what you think others expect of you doesn’t leave you accountable to anyone. If we don’t follow through we may feel bad for a day and get over it.
When we decide to make changes for ourselves we focus more on success. If we don’t follow through we’ll feel that guilt more and keep trying. Humans by nature are selfish, we want to do things to make ourselves feel good. So be selfish about bettering yourself. Do what you think you need to do to create a better version of yourself, not what you think you should do based on others opinions.
There’s no plan in place
Often we’ll say “I resolve to be more positive this year” or “I resolve to lose 10 pounds”. Great but how? Do you have any kind of plan to help you succeed? How are you going to be more positive? How are you going to change your negativity to be positive. If you say I’m just going to be positive then you aren’t actually changing, you’re just putting a cover on your thoughts and actions, but underneath you’ll still have those negative thoughts. How are you going to lose those 10 pounds? Do you have a meal plan? And workout plan? Have you looked at habits you need to change in your life to facilitate the weight loss? Most likely not. You may have gotten a gym membership and go a few times, but not change your eating habits and when you see no progress you slip back into your original lifestyle.
Resolving to make changes without any sort of plan how you’re going to do it leaves you with a destination but no map on how to get there. You may get lucky and find your way but more likely than not you’ll end up lost.
So how do we better ourselves in the new year?
Set attainable goals
Sit down and write 3 realistic goals. Saying things like I’m going to make $1,000,000 are unrealistic, but a goal of “I want a better paying job” is very doable. For each of these goals create the steps needed to attain that goal. It may look something like this.
Lose 10 pounds
- Find a meal plan I can stick with
- Join a group fitness class
- Talk to a trainer about a workout plan for the gym
- Track progress
- Don’t get discouraged when I don’t see results, (re-evaluate)
- Keep a food journal
It’s a very realistic goal to achieve in a year and the steps work as a road map of how to achieve this goal. And by reminding ourselves not to get discouraged helps us stay focused, these are long term goals that take time and work. Results won’t appear over night but after a few weeks when you step on that scale and see a change, and you feel a change in your overall health you’ll stay on track.
Often when we have these goals and the plan in place to achieve them we’ll see ourselves reaching them and setting new goals. Our list of goals can be as big as we want, we can add goals throughout the year, reassess the plans we have in place if we don’t see progress. The point is we’ve got a tangible list of what we want to achieve, a way to achieve our goals and we are doing it for ourselves not anyone else.
When you’ve reached certain milestones on the road to reaching your goals reward yourself. If you’ve lost 5 pounds in a month, get yourself a massage or some new clothes. If you’ve gone a month without smoking, have a nice dinner. Hard work without reward is just work. We need to feel proud of our accomplishments and reward ourselves for a job well done. It doesn’t have to be fancy or expensive, just a token to keep ourselves focused on results and pushing forward.
Do it for yourself
Your goal has to be something you want for yourself. Not something others have told you you need to change about yourself. Doing it for others never works. We are only trying to become something we’re not because someone else has told us that’s what we should be when we do that. Doing what YOU think YOU need to do for YOU will give you the motivation you need to take the steps to reach your goal.
Remember, you can do it
In the words of Yoda “do or do not, there is no try”. Whatever your goal, always tell yourself that you are doing it. You are aren’t trying to lose 10 pounds, you’re losing 10 pounds. You aren’t trying to quit smoking, you quit. When you say you’re trying you leave the option of failure open, when you are definitively doing something it’s just a matter of time until you get to your end result. Be positive with yourself. If you slip on your way to your goal, don’t get discouraged turn it into something positive. Did you eat McDonalds while losing weight. That’s fine it was your cheat meal for the week. Being able to turn a negative into a positive will keep you from feeling guilty, and keep you from giving up. You’ll lose the “I knew I couldn’t do it” mentality and change to “I’m doing it, that was just a mistake”. Mistakes are good, mistakes are learning opportunities. They show us what we did wrong and help us avoid that in the future.
If you want to make changes for yourself or your life in the new year, you can. You just need to have the right tools and mindset in place to succeed. And you can make these changes whenever you want. Just because it’s a new year doesn’t mean now you have to come up with goals or things you would like to change. You can decide these things in July if you want. All you need to do is want it, know what you want, and how you’re going to get there.
Do you have goals for the new year? What are they? Let me know in the comments.