For many of us, a new year presents opportunities to build healthy habits, start new hobbies, and change our lives for the better. For others, the prospect of making resolutions can seem intimidating, and a lot of these new habits tend to fall by the wayside early on in the year. These landmark dates can provide a “fresh start effect,” but how can we try to maintain these positive changes long-term?
There are some handy methods you can try out to keep your promises to yourself. Starting small and creating a long-term action plan are key. Rather than fad diets, expensive exercise classes, or complicated meal plans, try to set small and consistent goals that work with your lifestyle.
Change your approach to goals
New Year’s resolutions connected to health tend to be structured around avoidance – completely cutting out certain foods and habits. For many, this feels like we are punishing ourselves and often ends in failure. Instead, take a more manageable and goal-oriented approach. For example, create an enjoyable routine around improving your sleeping habits, or broaden your culinary horizons by adding additional healthy foods to your existing diet.
Make it measurable
To successfully incorporate new resolutions, being specific can also be beneficial. Goals that are vague, from vowing to eat less refined sugar or to be more active, are virtually impossible to maintain. Instead, write down specific goals that make it easier to track your progress, such as working towards doing 50 push-ups in a row, getting at least seven hours of a sleep a night, or keeping your time spent on social media to one hour a day. By making the goals measurable, you will reap the rewards at the end, while tracking your progress will keep you motivated.
Set yourself up for success
Resolutions are easier to keep if we work towards them incrementally – rather than via a complete overhaul. Instead of signing up for a gym membership, changing your diet, and vowing to learn a new language all in the same month, start small. While it may be tempting to go all-in with a series of major upheavals, you may end up spreading yourself too thin among too many different goals.
If you want to run a marathon, start out by going for a jog two or three times a week. At a manageable pace, work up to longer runs and exercising more days per week.
Sharing your resolutions with friends, family, or a support group will make it easier to stay on track. Journaling and keeping track of your goals can help you stay positive, and talking to others about your plans holds you accountable. There are a number of habit-tracking apps you can download to help you stay motivated, and stay connected to others who are working towards the same things.
This year, plan for success in your resolution quest to get healthier. Small steps, reasonable and specific goals, and share them with friends and family. Remember – missteps are part of any journey towards a positive change, so it’s important not to beat yourself up. Be patient with yourself, and your new commitments, and you will begin to enjoy the journey towards a healthier lifestyle.
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