I vowed a few weeks ago not to write about New Year’s resolutions, but you all got the best of me and this week’s column pays tribute to what may be on everyone’s mind this time of year. I have resolved to reprint last year’s column with a few updates.
As we approach the beginning of February, have you stuck to your new year’s resolutions? Many of us make them and more often than not, we fail to keep them. But why?
Are we swayed by tradition over practicality? Is determination and will power enough or do we need other tools? Is state of mind a better impetus for resolutions than time of year? As a personal trainer for 18 years, I have some insights.
In a Time magazine article and according to a Marist poll, 48 percent of American adults are somewhat likely to make a new year’s resolution. The Marist poll also found that while 65 percent of people who made a resolution in 2008 kept their promise for at least part of the year, 35 percent never made it out of the gate. But why? What’s the key to making resolutions stick?
First, be realistic — set goals that can be achieved with the circumstances at hand. A wide-eyed scenario that is too extreme from your norm is a recipe for failure. If you have a mediocre gym five minutes from your house, don’t join the state-of-the-art gym that’s 30 minutes away.
Small, incremental changes stick better rather than grandiose sweeping modifications. If you need more sleep, begin by going to bed 15 minutes earlier each night or if losing 30 pounds is in your mind-set start by losing in five-pound increments. Smaller increments are a much less daunting task and you allow yourself “mini” rewards along the way to assist in fueling your larger, often more intimidating, goal.
In keeping with realistic and incremental goals, I find it beneficial in acknowledging that “every little bit helps.” Discovering what you can do in each moment or each day geared toward your goal can be liberating. Knowing that you don’t have to lose 30 pounds in one day or be able to run a marathon in a week can make an overwhelming task or resolution much more within reach.
I think back on the 100 mile bike rides I have done and remember that dissecting the ride into mini rides was not only a healthy contest, but a much more effective training approach than over-focusing on the totality and grueling nature of 100 miles. Taking 15 miles at a time was easier and I conquered them with more zest making the final goal of 100 miles more triumphant.
When I look too far for the end result or the larger goal that I am paralyzed and not sure what the next step should be. When I do the next right thing or think in terms of what I can do in that given moment, my goals are far more manageable and more enjoyable.
It’s a cliché but it works — take one day at a time. You didn’t gain 30 pounds in a day, so it’s silly to think you can lose it that quickly. Changing everything at once is setting yourself up for failure.