I have always wondered why people make New Year’s resolutions each year, only to abandon them in a month or two (if they are lucky). Apparently, the average New Year’s resolution only lasts about 2 weeks. TWO WEEKS! So, why even try to make a resolution in the first place? Why do we put ourselves through making a resolution to make changes to our lives, then crush ourselves with guilt when we abandon them soon after? How do people who make actual changes in their lives stick with it?
Maybe, we are putting too much pressure on ourselves to be perfect in our resolutions, an all-or-nothing mentality. Maybe, we need to just be better than we were and forget about perfection. Maybe, deciding that even though we didn’t do whatever it was we resolved ourselves to do the day before doesn’t mean we have to give up, today. Small steps and small pivots might have better success than cold turkey, all-or-nothing, huge changes.
Try focusing on why you are wanting to make the change in the first place. What are the benefits of making the change you want to see? If it is changing your diet or incorporating more exercise, why do you want to eat differently or exercise more? Keep asking yourself why! Is it for better health? Is it because your doctor said you have Pre-diabetes? Is it for a particular person in your life? And when the going gets tough, remember your why. Where will you be in 5 years or 10 years if you keep going on the same path? Where do you see yourself in 5 or 10 years if you make the resolution stick?
Learn from your failures. Fail forward. If you just give up when you fail and do not learn from the failures, you will always be stuck in a rut. Analyze what went wrong, what didn’t work. How can you make it work? What are some additional steps you can take to stay on track? So, yesterday, you decided that eating the chocolate chip cookie (or two or three or bag) was more important than the new eating habits you are trying to establish, ok. Accept it. And then move on. But also, think about why you gave into the temptation. Perhaps, if you don’t buy those cookies, you won’t eat those cookies. Perhaps, when you get a craving for cookies, you can substitute something else. Or just eat the cookie and move on. Tomorrow is another day for new choices.
Celebrate the small wins, like “Today, I didn’t even think about cookies.” Or “today, I thought about buying cookies at the store, but instead I purchased apples.” If you are moving in the right direction, celebrate those little steps, the little pivots that will make you successful in the long run. Remember, making big changes cannot happen in one giant step. It takes many little steps to achieve success. Lasting resolutions that make a difference are a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t do any good to rush it, then beat yourself up when you fail. So, just take it one step at a time and celebrate each small step.
If you need to, set reminders on your phone, or pay attention to associations. Set a reminder to stop and take deep breaths if you are trying to reduce stress, or maybe you are trying to drink more water during the day (set an alarm to take a big gulp). If you tend to eat junk food while watching TV after work, change the association or make healthy snacks before you sit down to watch TV. I wanted to walk more, so I after my husband and I dropped my son off at school, we would go straight to the local park and take a lap around the walking path. It was something simple, but if I went home, I knew I would not feel like going out later. It also helped to have my husband on board motivating me to keep going.
Choose someone you trust to keep you accountable – your partner, friend, or coach. When you are accountable to someone else, you are more likely to achieve your goals. If you need an accountability partner, let me know!
Are you ready to PIVOT to functional health and wellness?