You don’t have to be among the millions who ditch their health resolutions.
Depending on which polls you look at, it appears to be standard practice for most people to ditch their New Year’s Resolutions by mid-February. Whether it’s a shortage of time to commit to changes we want to make or a lack of motivation, we seem to lack the stick-to-it-iveness to employ positive changes that become good, long-term habits for healthy living. But polling results don’t define us. Knowing what we want for our lives and then setting our intentions to manifest that life is hard work. But it is not impossible. It would be best to have a plan with built-in bumpers to keep you on the right path.
First, there is no amount of worthwhile “success” which is easily come by. Success at anything worth doing takes hard work, determination, and perseverance. However, a lofty goal can be “chopped up” into smaller, more bite-sized mini-goals that can set you up for ultimately achieving that significant objective. Take weight loss as an example. Losing weight is a popular New Year’s Resolution – with nearly half of all “resolvers” choosing it as a personal improvement goal. If you’ve got a lot to lose – 50 pounds perhaps – achieving such a goal can seem downright daunting. But what might happen when you chop the objective up into smaller 5 or 10-pound increments? Then, at each 10-pound mini-goal achieved, you reward yourself with something non-food related? Perhaps it’s a new wardrobe item for your slimmer physique or a massage. No matter what you choose, your brain loves rewards, and the prize helps fuel the good habit.
Even your mini-goals are going to get tough to stick with sometimes. This is where positive self-talk and pushing through obstacles come in handy. Decide that you’re going to refuse to be anything but the best version of yourself. If, to you, that means becoming a marathon runner, for example, then push yourself to accomplish that early-morning run on a day you really didn’t want to get out of your warm bed. Write down the accomplishment and try to recall it each time your old self wants to get in the way of who you’re trying to become. Again, if “marathon runner” is someone you want to become and that seems far out of reach, start first with “I want to become a person who runs three times a week,” or break that down even further into: “I want to become a person who runs a mile without stopping.” Small goals achieved add up to big rewards over time.
On the note of physical fitness or other health and wellness goals, I firmly believe that every one of us is a natural-born athlete and survivor. These traits are genetically wired into our collective human DNA. If you’ve never run a day in your life, picked up a dumbbell, or stepped onto a tennis court, it is never, ever too late to start. When you do, your body will begin to “remember” what it was designed to do. When you stick with exercise and fitness goals, you will gain mental and physical strength that might’ve seemed impossibly achieved just a few months ago. The key is not to quit when the going gets tough, and it will get tough sometimes.
It may sound like a cliché, but we all live the life we want. Human beings are insanely intelligent creatures. But our brains are wired for energy conservation – so those habits that are the shortest means to an end (eating fast food versus making a meal at home, for example) are often going to win out over more labor-intensive tasks. Knowing this is true about ourselves can significantly help improve our lifestyles and stick with the resolve to be better versions of ourselves. It will rarely be easy, but it will always be worth it. Don’t let the month on the calendar dictate your “better you” destiny, the power is all yours – 365 days a year.