Did you make your New Year’s Resolutions?
Are they different this year than last January?
Do you find yourself year after year making the same resolutions, swearing you’ll do it this time, and then by February, you’ve completely forgotten the candlelight ceremony you held in an attempt to super-commit yourself this time to the end result of said resolution?
You and everyone else on the planet who made those same vows. So why is that?
Because people make resolutions to change habits when emotions are high and its the popular thing to do. “It’s a new year, a new beginning, it’s time to change your ways and become the person you always dreamed of being!” It gets you charged up and wanting to make vows to eat cleaner, be healthier, spend less and exercise more often or in some cases, just start.
The problem is, most of the resolutions people announce on January 1st, rarely last, because making monumental changes can take some serious work and more change than most of us are comfortable with. So here’s the trick – set SHORT TERM goals that lead to a long term achievement. If your goal is for 2016 – bonus, it’s a leap year. You get an extra day for another goal.
You want to change your nutritional habits and right now you think breakfast is a box of Pop Tarts in the car on the way to work, lunch is a fast-food burger in a bag with grease stains on it, you’ve emptied your pockets or change wallet of all coins in the break room vending machine by the end of your day and dinner is in a carton or box seated in front of the TV followed by a bag or two of pre-packaged snacks. If you were thirsty you polished off an 18 pack of soda or two 2-liters. Pick one thing to do differently, something small that’s easy to incorporate that doesn’t radically change everything.
Those big radical changes to someone who goes from all junk food to raw green salads with no dressing, are the things that will become points of contention that make you feel deprived and angry. Then one day when everything has gone you-know-where in a hand-basket – you snap and buy out a Little Cesar’s pizza shop of their evening stock, then stop by a drive-thru for a couple of double-cheeseburgers and several boxes of fries. You park in a dark alley behind a Walmart and gorge yourself, concealing your identity with your gym sweatshirt’s hoodie, eating like a paranoid squirrel, who chews ferociously, cramming in as much as possible, stopping periodically glaring about thinking someone’s coming or has caught them.
You stop at a convenience store, acting cagey, making the clerk think you’re going to rob them as you pace the chip and candy aisle nervously, dumping your horde on the counter along with a 640z Blue Raspberry Icee. You’re sweating like a 16 year old buying a condom for the first time. Grease stains on your hoodie reflect the glaring fluorescent overhead lights revealing your crimes against resolutions.
You sink back into your car feeling defeated, depressed and like a failure. You think it’s hopeless and that there’s no way you can recommit to the resolution. It’s too hard. You see the lights of a gym sign in your rear view mirror across the street and you drive away in shame, deciding there’s no coming back from the atrocities you’ve just binged upon. You give up – and you’re only a month and a half into the year.
First – everyone has moments of weakness. Everyone makes mistakes. You slipped. Okay, big deal. Shrug it off. Go home, drink some water to start flushing your system from the insanity your just consumed and get back in the saddle.
Second – Don’t go cold turkey, especially if you’re coming from a place as a novice whether its in food, fitness or finance for that matter. Pick small things that are easy to change and regularly change one small thing at a time. You’re trying to change habits. Habits aren’t born overnight – they’re long term practices you’ve been doing all along.
So tomorrow you choose to swap a glass of water for one of your sodas. Do that every day. A week later, two glasses of water (not back to back), and another less soda. Your goal at the end of the year is to only drink sodas on occasion if at all. Truth – when you take soda out of your diet altogether, when you do drink one – you feel terrible. Then you wonder why you ever drank them to begin with. If you can eliminate sodas and sugary drinks faster, great – do it, but this is an easy swap out plan that you can do gradually that won’t send your brain into an emotional deprivation mode.
Do the same with food and exercise. Don’t go to the gym and buy a year’s membership, signing up for every class offered and get one of their “personal trainers.” Do you have to go to gym? No, you don’t. Is it good to go? Yes, it is, because in the beginning with someone who is just starting out – the comradery motivates you to show up. Physical exercise is like water – when you’re used to it, you crave it. It’s the only thing that truly quenches that physical thirst, but in the beginning, you have to create the habit of getting up and doing it. Having others who motivate you can be a powerful thing.
Commit yourself to the goals you have in mind. Drop the resolutions. Put your full heart, soul and belief into them. If it’s something you truly want and dedicate yourself to it, you will achieve it. It may not be within some pre-conceived period of time, but you will succeed.