Raise your hand if you’ve ever said anything like this on January 1st-
I am going to stop eating junk food
I am going to go to the gym every day
I am going to stop drinking soda
I am going to bed at 8:00 every night
I am going to be a vegan
I am only going to eat out once a month
I am going to be president of the United States
I am going to end world hunger
YUP. Me too. Until I realized something.
Following through with these impossible resolutions didn’t only require an enormous amount of effort, but the high bar made it incredibly difficult to be successful (and this is coming from someone who really values loyalty). I would be consistent for a solid two weeks before the resolution unraveled before my eyes, bruising my ego time and time again. It only took me several years until I realized that this was a pattern, and I would continuously beat myself up about it until I completely gave up and the resolution was obsolete. Sound familiar?
But let’s talk about this word: Resolution. We say “New Year’s Resolution” almost as if it’s a cliche, but we never think about what resolution means.
Webster provides us with two definitions of the word.
While the first definition seems more fitting for the term “New Year’s Resolution,” I prefer the second one-
“the action of solving a problem, dispute, or contentious matter.”
Why? Let me tell you honestly.
New Year’s Resolutions fall under the same category as diet fads, they initially sound appealing, but end up being extreme and not the least bit enjoyable. They are always well-intended and would probably be incredibly beneficial for you, but because of the overwhelming amount of effort it would take to follow through with the goal, you essentially set yourself up for failure. (Just so we’re clear, I have been guilty of this a hundred and one times.)
Your goal should not be short term, and I wouldn’t even consider it something you have to start at the new year. It is something that you should decide to resolve for life. We typically use resolutions as a growth opportunity, but envelop yourself in candor for a second and ask, how often do you actually think you will follow through with it? If you have a resolution in mind, there is typically an aspect of your life that you feel could benefit from a change. It’s time to stop selling ourselves short, and start focusing on solving the problem. This way, you are able to implement healthy habits into your lifestyle with a long term goal in mind, whatever it may be.
Now you may be thinking, “Woah Allie! You just told us that New Year Resolutions are too overwhelming, but now you want us to change for LIFE?”
Hey guys, I wouldn’t suggest this if I didn’t believe in it. I think it is truly amazing that goals are set and people are willing to grow, but like every goal, you must be realistic. Coming from someone who has failed on countless occasions, successful goals do not happen overnight, nor are they easy. With this being said, there are several components that I personally value. They make the process somewhat easier and have been proven to be successful time and time again.
Make the resolution attainable
Even though I consider myself a very goal-oriented person, there are times that my objectives have been pushed aside because of the demanding and disheveled schedule of life. Whether I don’t follow through with my goal depends entirely on if it overwhelms me or not. For instance, writing a book is a goal of mine, but thinking about it as a whole can be very stressful. If I am ever going to reach that goal, I have to make it less intimidating so I can approach it.
You are the only one that knows your personal struggle and where you stand with it. For example, If you are currently not working out at all, it isn’t realistic to set a goal to go to the gym every day. Start small, and create a resolution that you can incorporate into your daily life. This will make it non-threatening and provide leeway for healthier habits in the future. Here are some accessible goals that I have personally seen to be successful-
- Go for a walk every day
- Have a vegetable with every meal
- Eat less meat
- Read for ten minutes every day
- Set an alarm for bedtime
- Tidy your kitchen every night
- Say “yes” to one thing a week that you usually wouldn’t
Those don’t seem too scary, do they? They all have potential to be expanded so that when you get in the habit of doing them and find ways to enjoy them, they can become a part of your life in a bigger way- which leads me to my next point.
Make your resolution something you enjoy
Let me tell you what I do not enjoy- waking up before work to go to the gym. I would rather stab myself in the eye twelve times before I wake up at 5:00 am to get on the stair stepper. However for some people, this could be their most energized time of the day, or they may want to be able to spend time with their family later. Everyone is different and that is okay! What helped me get to the gym? Vampire Diaries. Not even kidding. I would go to the gym primarily to watch Netflix during my cardio warm-up, and I would even look forward to cardio days so I could watch Damon and Elena break up for the eighth time.
So thank you Netflix, for allowing me to enjoy my workout, but this doesn’t only apply to exercise. If you do not like what you are doing, you are not going to follow through with it. Plain and simple. You have to make it conform to your schedule and interests.
If your goal is about eating more vegetables but you can’t stand them, figure out different ways to make them taste good to you (with Google, anything is possible.) Want to incorporate reading into your schedule? Really take the time to figure out what books interest you, and commit to it. Can’t cook? Find a friend that does, and learn from them. See my point? Despite what people think, you have so much power when it comes to perspective, and only you are going to change your lifestyle, so make it fun!
Find someone to keep you accountable.
Since resolutions usually revolve around a healthier lifestyle, figure out what accountability system works for you. If you like to work out with people, join a class at the gym and purposely make yourself known to others there. It creates a solid group full of accountability that will keep you going and make it a habit for life. I teach Body Works at LA Fitness, and I have seen first-hand a community of healthy people grow every week.
If you aren’t a class person, find someone that will go with you to the gym and push you. I have one particular friend that I absolutely love going to the gym with. We push each other in different ways, and not to mention it makes the workout 10x more enjoyable since we love each other’s company. (Thanks Mads! Check out “The Pretty Filter” on Apple Podcasts, guys!) If you don’t have a single clue what to do at the gym, find a personal trainer. Being related to someone that does training for a living, I am a huge advocate of making yourself a priority. My brother has seen lives changed with diet and exercise through his gym in San Marcos, and it is really helpful to have that community motivating you weekly. (If you are in the Austin area, check the gym out here!)
If you have a goal that is not exercise related, have someone else journey with you. Text each other, call each other out and accept growth as you pave the way for your lifestyle change. You are much more likely to attain the goal if you tell people because it makes the aspiration a reality. So yell it from the mountains, and be proud of yourself for wanting to be a better human.
It’s okay to fail
Lastly, and most importantly, if you slip up, it is okay. Do you know that 5 AM workout I mentioned? That was a New Year’s resolution for myself, and when I inevitably failed because I am NOT a morning person, I made it a point to change the time I worked out so I was able to be more successful. Your resolution is not set in stone, and it is not something that can’t be modified. You’re solving a problem remember? There’s always more than one solution. If it is too difficult, don’t you dare give up! Keep your end goal in sight, remember to move forward, no matter how small the step, it is still a step in the right direction.
Failing is an opportunity for growth and a time to be introspective. But it’s also an opportunity to be something that is necessary for life long change, an opportunity to be honest. It’s time for us to be honest with the people that we love and with ourselves-what is it that you want to resolve in your life? And more importantly, why do you value it? If you have a motive, the movement towards change makes all the difference. (I speak about the “why” in another post, read it here!)
Of course, a change of lifestyle does not come without a change of mindset. You have to know that this New Year’s Resolution is going to be for the long hall taken a step further. You need to be committed, strong and willing to fight for yourself when it gets difficult, because it will. After habitually living your life in a healthy and productive way, you will thank yourself ten times over…and then some. Please feel free to share your New Year’s goals and update us about progress, I would love to be your biggest cheerleader. Happy New Year everyone! Let’s get to resolving!