New Year’s Resolutions: Making Them Work

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man;
true nobility is being superior to your former self.”
― Ernest Hemingway

The year is coming to a close, which means it is time to prepare our New Year’s Resolutions. Personally, I love goals. I am always looking to improve and be better at what I do in both my personal and professional lives. On New Year’s Eve, my husband and I get dinner together and talk about what we enjoyed about the past year, what we would have done differently, and look forward to another year in the most positive and encouraging way. This is also when we officially set our New Year’s Resolutions.

A lot of consideration goes into these resolutions and if any plan was meant to start in January, we’d each have already laid it out long before New Year’s Eve dinner. Throughout the year we check in on our resolutions too, to hold each other accountable and help each other out.

Resolutions need a plan set in place for them to succeed. This article discusses how to build a goal plan, and keep to it, to see a New Year’s Resolution come to fruition.

Critique Without Judgement

We should all be able to self-assess without emotionally beating ourselves up. We are each a work in progress and are capable of growing into better people until our last breathing moment.

Consider What You Want

You probably already have an idea of what you would like different about yourself or about your life. Grab onto that idea and visualize it realized. Imagine yourself in this new and improved way. Feel how good it is! Doing this makes that distant desire seem like an attainable possibility.

Break It Down

Now, how to get there? A resolution is often a lofty ideal, but to get there is going to take many smaller steps. Break down what it will take to get from Point A to Point B. When you break down a resolution, it may look more like a to-do list at first.

For example: My resolution is to run a marathon this year but I’ve never run a race before. I need to: buy shoes, start running, learn warm-ups and cool-downs, find a trainer, maybe run a 5k first, then a half-marathon…

This to-do list becomes your list of goals. Goals should take a matter of minutes or at most 3-ish months. Too big of a goal may not be practical to achieve, so it should be broken down into even smaller goals.

Make a Plan and Plan Ahead

Waiting until you’re hungry (and probably hangry) to create a meal plan and go shopping is a good way to kill a diet. The same goes for working out, quitting smoking, or just about any other goal. List exactly what it is you need to do to prepare and set a date on the calendar. Give yourself enough time to put the plan in place (i.e. join a gym, gather recipes, etc) but not so far out that you lose motivation.

Get Specific

Leaving wiggle room in your goals allows space to negotiate yourself out of your goals or create new bad habits. Get specific about exactly what you can and cannot do along your journey.

For example: if you are quitting smoking cigarettes, how many are you allowed in a day? Does that mean you are allowed to smoke cigars? Vape? Chew nicotine gum?

Establish Safety Boundaries

By creating boundaries within your plan, you are protecting both yourself and your ability to reach your goal. This is especially important when questions of safety are involved.

For example:  if you are trying to start a new workout routine, you would decide on how many times a week you would go to the gym. A minimum of two visits, perhaps? But what is your maximum number of visits? By working out too much too soon you will likely get hurt or wear yourself to the ground.Often we think about how we need to do more to be better but, and my apologies for the cliche, often less really is more.

Create a Time Frame

Not only will you want a start date to kick off your plan, but you’ll also want an end date. An open-ended plan allows for too much procrastination. With a set end date, you’ve established a sense of urgency, as well as the knowledge that the hard part will be over soon.

The indefinite time frame of “forever” is overwhelming and vague. A goal of 14, 30, or 60-days would feel much more attainable.

When this time frame comes to an end, have your next goal ready to go so you can take yourself to the next level rather than going back to square one.

Write It Down

Everything that you have determined from the above points should get written down somewhere for safekeeping, especially if your goal is to kick an addictive habit. Addiction will try to protect itself and may try to re-design or destroy your plan. If you write it down, the plan can be referenced again and again. You can hold that addiction-monster accountable and say “nope. This is the plan and that is how it is.”

Tell Someone Your Plan

Talking about your goals is one of the most important steps. By sharing your goal with someone, there is an extra sense of accountability. You don’t want to let them down, right? Also, by talking about it out loud, you may be able to work out more details of your plan – something you hadn’t thought of before.

Your goal may impact the people close to you. Let your spouse/kids/roommate know what you are doing. They ought to support you, and they might even be inspired to join you!

Track Your Progress

Most goals are a real challenge, but by keeping an ongoing record, it is easier for you to hold yourself accountable. I recommend having a calendar, paper or digital, to keep your record in. Did you go a whole day without sugar? Put a sticker on your calendar. Did you go to the gym? Mark it completed. At the end of the week, you can see how well you did and feel encouraged. Didn’t do so well? No worries, you’ll own it next week!

The Plan Might Change

Sometimes the plan needs to change. Maybe the initial plan wasn’t practical and too difficult. Maybe some outside force made a good plan impossible to meet (ie a lost job made a gym membership too expensive).

When you need to adjust your goals, seek an outside opinion. There is a fine line between wanting and needing to change plans so having an objective perspective can help keep clarity. Again, addiction will try to destroy your plan, outside help can prevent that.

Be Forgiving

You are perfectly imperfect. You may have hard moments and you may fail. It is ok! Don’t beat yourself up. Just get back on that horse, friend. You’ve got this.

We Can Help

Before beginning a new diet, workout, or attempting to quit an old habit, you should always consult your medical professional first. That is where we at Apex Sports Medicine come in. We care about your New Year’s Resolutions. We can help break them down to safe and achievable goals that are made just for you. Each time you come and see us we can check in on those goals and see what adjustments, if any, need to be made.

We are here for you.

By Dr. Mary Froeba, DAcOM LAc


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