By: Malea MacOdrum 4th year medical student edited by Dr Elise Schroeder
The New Year signifies a new beginning, a chance to wipe away the missteps of 2012 and start fresh in 2013. Unfortunately, for most people their good intentions fall by the wayside sometime around February. Whether your New Year’s resolution is to eat more healthfully, pay down debt, or to finally clean out that closet, here are some tips on how to keep on keeping on:
- Set The Path – When setting your New Year’s Resolution, reflect on how achievable it actually is. Choose goals that are reachable and measurable. Instead of “I will be financially successful” choose, “I will set aside $500 a month for my 401K”. It’s easy to let yourself off the hook when your resolution is more grandiose concept than a tangible target.
- Take Baby Steps – Rome wasn’t built in a day, and attempting to overhaul your entire life all at once can sabotage all of your efforts. Write your goal down and then divide it into manageable, but meaningful steps over the course of the year. For example, if your goal is to quit smoking first work on cutting back to half a pack a day.
- Know Your Triggers – Change can be hard, but preparing for challenges before they occur will help you get beyond hurdles. If your resolution is to look and feel great in a bikini for trip to the beach, figure out what your normal unhealthy triggers are. Is it driving past a fast food joint on your way home from work? Choose a different route home. Do you snack late at night? Only keep healthy snacks around the house like carrot sticks and almond butter. Do you find it difficult to get to the gym? Keep a packed gym bag in your car at all times. Knowing what might trip you up and building in solutions beforehand can make your path towards success exponentially easier.
- Get A Team – Even the best of us will have off days. But you don’t have to let one off day spiral into complete failure. Having a team on hand (friends, coworkers, online groups) can help keep you motivated and focused on your goals even when you feel like quitting.
- Be OK with Making Mistakes – Your path towards your Resolution will likely take dips throughout the year. Backslides are OK. If you’re goal is to eat healthfully, at some point you will probably eat one too many cookies at your daughter’s birthday party or one too many glasses of wine at that dinner party. When this happens, and it will, focus on ways to get yourself back on track. Take the dog out for an extra walk or spend an extra 10 minutes on the treadmill.