Big plans for 2024? Don’t set yourself up for failure. Perhaps, like many people, you tell yourself, “This coming year I’m going to resolve to go on a diet. I will eat less and exercise more.” Well, I don’t know about you, but if that were my plan, I wouldn’t be very excited about it. How about a different approach? “This coming year I resolve to feel stronger and have more energy. I will eat healthier and move more.” Just saying it evokes excitement because it is practical and achievable, and when you are excited about something, you just can’t wait to get started. So don’t wait.
There is nothing magical about resolutions made on January 1. A study entitled “The Resolution Solution,” conducted by the Department of Psychology at the University of Scranton, found that only 19% of 200 resolvers were successful in maintaining their pledges. Your state of mind is more important than the date you start. If you are excited, you are more likely to be ready.
As a coach, I can tell you that people don’t make changes to their lives until they are ready. They need to make a change because they’ve decided that the benefits of doing so will outweigh the disadvantages of staying the same. If working out several times a week doesn’t seem worth it because it means you’d have to forgo coffee talks with friends, you are not going to be able to stick to it.
If you are ready to make a commitment to eat healthier and move more so you can feel stronger and have more energy, then you can plan for success.
Set SMART goals—Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound. Once you’ve determined what you want to accomplish, how you will mark your success, that your goal is realistic, why it is important and will impact your life, and your deadline to reach the finish line, it is time to take action.
Write out your goals and keep them visible, so they are not easily forgotten. Revisit your plan on a regular schedule and allow flexibility as necessary. Life will bring situations beyond your control, so tweaks may be needed. Tell a trusted friend your end goal, and that you will achieve it with their support to keep you accountable. I do not recommend posting your goal or resolution publicly as you will likely receive discouragement for reasons that have very little, or nothing at all, to do with your ability to achieve it.
Switch out an unhealthy snack with a piece of seasonal fruit. Take that first fitness class, find a friend to walk with, or take the stairs instead. Yes, even if you work on a higher floor, you can walk down one or two flights and catch the elevator from that floor.
Establish your routine and keep it up, one day at a time. Know that you may have a day where you’ve slipped. On that day, remind yourself, “Denise said this might happen and that it’s OK because I’m acknowledging my mistake and I know why it happened.” Recognize that mistakes and learning from them are a part of your process, and then get back on track. Continue with your plan, again, one day at a time. The days will become weeks and this time next year, you will look back and be glad you started today.
Contributing writer Denise Lum is a Health and Fitness Coach raising her family in Alameda. Contact her via [email protected] or FitnessByDsign.com. Her writing is collected at AlamedaPost.com/Denise-Lum.