New Year, Old You? How to Resolve Resolutions

It’s the first few days of the new year, and you are raring to go with a list of resolutions. Your mornings start with rosy images of the new, improved you, living a happier, more successful life. You can wait until are are that person, and the only thing standing between you and your awesomer self is, well, everything.

Despite our dearest wishes to the contrary, the major difference between who you were last year and who you are on January 1 is only a couple minutes. No amount of aspiration wipes that away, carte blanche. So you can have a great list of resolutions, but they won’t happen unless you know how to make them happen.

It’s the time of year to just get it done. Here are 4 tips to help you break through and make this year’s resolutions a reality.

  1. Be Specific: Is “be healthier” on your list? Have you asked yourself what that actually means? It’s similar to resolving to “learn history.” There is too much in there to make any real progress. Focus on an aspect of health that will make an impact, like hitting a weekly gym goal, or setting aside a few minutes each day to relax. Define your resolution in a specific phrase that articulates your intent and reason. Example: I intend to cook dinner twice a week because when I make my own food, I know I’m feeding my body good nutrition.
  2. Break It Down: Even the most specific goal feels daunting when you want to make a lifestyle change, but don’t know where to start. So break it down into small steps, and you’ll have a roadmap to follow. For instance, I would love to run a 10K this fall, but after a few minutes on the treadmill, I get tired. To make it happen, I need to build stamina via regular cardio workouts – maybe 3 times a week. I’ll also have to be in the game mentally, so I should make a playlist to keep me focused. And I’ll set intermediate goals along the way: by March I want to be able to run 3 straight miles, by May, 4 miles. It sounds obvious, but small steps help you see positive progress.
  3. Try, Try Again: It’s rare to effect significant, permanent change on the first try. Making a lifestyle shift requires retraining yourself to do something differently, and that can be tough. Commit to repetition. Even if you missed it yesterday, trying again today will keep you on the path to success. In my dinner cooking example, I know I’m not going to have time every week to hit that goal. But if this week is super busy, i know if I stick with it, next week I can try again, and likely succeed.
  4. Love You: Here’s my plug for not making New Years’ Resolutions. Most of us can rattle off a long list of things about ourselves we’d change if we could. But while self improvement is a lifelong, vital process, don’t overdo it. It’s easy to fixate on everything you think is wrong, and even easier to let that negative attitude bring you down. Before committing to a serious list of resolutions, ask yourself whether each thing on your list would make a positive impact on your life if you achieve it. If the answer is no, that resolution isn’t worth pursuing. Life is too short to devalue yourself.
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