“Spending more time with my family” may seem specific at first, but try adding a blank after the word “family” to drill it down further. No one means they want to spend more time with their families fighting, asleep, or texting friends. What activities constitute quality time for you? Anything counts, including family game night, eating dinner together, hiking, cuddling in front of a movie, telling bedtime stories…the list is endless, as long as the activities are meaningful to YOU.
Reaching for the sky is great, but it is a terrible way to motivate yourself. Consider setting small monthly or quarterly goals instead of one huge year-long goal. Doesn’t losing two pounds per month sound easier than losing 25lbs in 2015? Give yourself a reasonable amount of time to achieve a realistic goal. Achieving the first goal will give you momentum to keep going. If you are not reaching your goals, revise the number or time frame, instead of throwing in the towel.
Weight is an easy goal to measure, but what if your goal is eating a healthier diet or reducing stress? Start by finding a baseline to measure against.
For diet, keep a food journal while continuing your normal eating patterns for two weeks (As long as you are honest in your recording, this counts as part of your resolution, not procrastination🙂). Based on the journal, set goals for reducing a certain number of calories or select a healthy snack to replace an unhealthy one several times a month. Continue keeping a food journal and revisit it once a month. Compare your goals to what you actually ate to measure your progress.
For stress reduction, write down all of your stressors and anger triggers. Then brainstorm ways to either avoid each type of stressor or a healthy way to react when an unavoidable stress arises (Taking ten deep breaths before responding to your annoying co-worker, listening to classical music during your commute, sending the kids to separate rooms as soon as they start to bug you, go to bed 30 minutes earlier). On a note card or in your smart phone’s notes app, make columns for each of your top two or three stress avoidance/reduction tactics. Mark a plus under the tactic each time you successfully use one and a minus when stress wins out. After a month, see if the pluses outweigh the minuses in each column. Revise your tactics, based on which helped you most often and what ideas didn’t work.
Habit forming timeline–Have you heard that it takes 21 days to establish a habit? A study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology http://jamesclear.com/new-habit determined that it takes 18 to 254 days to form a new habit. Still struggling to get to the gym in March? You are not alone. Stick with it!
Adding fun to your New Year’s Resolutions always helps – Share workouts with friends, tape family photos to your savings jar, or read a joke before eating your salad.