January first is just ahead. It’s that time of year when we reflect on the year past, look forward to the year ahead, and make a New Year’s resolution, or two, filled with hope and promise. What will your resolution be?
“We tend to make resolutions automatically without taking the time to think about what we want to do or whether those goals are achievable,” says Delia West, PhD, professor at the University of South Carolina and member of the Curves and Jenny Craig Science Advisory Board. That approach can be the reason many resolutions fall by the wayside when February rolls around. Are you ready to set your goals for 2017? Here’s how to make choices that are right for you and keep them alive throughout the year.
Pick a Should and a Want
“There are the things we should do and the things we want to do,” West points out. “I suggest you think about both kinds of resolutions and choose one of each. Don’t choose the first thing you think of unless it’s something that you’ve wanted to do for a long time and you need January 1 to give you a motivational kick.”
Most people automatically go with a should: I should exercise, I should eat more vegetables, I should be more organized, I should cut back on junk food, but it’s harder to follow through on what you should do than what you want to do.
The word “should” implies drudgery. Reframe those goals with a positive association and drive: I am going to do strength training this year because I know it will give me more energy and make me feel better every day.
Wants might include: I want to take time to exercise this year, I want to plant a vegetable garden, I want to hike with my grandkids. It’s easier to feel motivated to accomplish a want.
Make Your Resolutions Achievable
Whether a should or a want, your resolutions need to be specific and achievable. “People often pick goals that are the hardest to achieve,” says West. “Make a menu of options—a range of resolutions from easy to more challenging—and then choose something you really can do. Maybe it’s doing more of something you are already doing.”
Perhaps you want to increase your physical activity in order to be able to live your best life. If you’re going to Curves two times a week, commit to adding a third or even fourth workout.
Shoot for realistic wants as well. If you’ve always wanted to hike a fourteener in the Rockies, and you haven’t hiked much farther than the trail in your community park, you might want to set your sights a bit lower for 2017.
Follow through to Success
“Once you’ve chosen your resolutions, you need to think through the specifics of how you are going to follow through, how you will monitor your progress, and how you will reward yourself along the way,” says West. Write a note in your calendar on the first of every month to check in with yourself and see how you’re doing, and if you’re on track, celebrate: make a date to meet for coffee with a friend, buy new workout clothes, go to the movies. Rewards motivate us to maintain our positive behaviors.
If you’ve slipped up here and there, take a few minutes to do some problem solving. Think about the successes you had in the past month; what were the circumstances that helped you succeed? Try to replicate them next month, and once you’re back on track, celebrate.
Don’t forget to share your strength resolutions with your Curves Coach – she can help you stay on track and meet or exceed your fitness goals.
Next December, you’ll be able to look back at what you’ve accomplished and say, “it was a very good year.”
By Claire Kowalchik