How to Turn Your Resolution Into a Lifestyle
How to Turn Your Resolution Into a Lifestyle
Tired of making the same New Years resolutions every December / January? Learn how to turn your resolution into a lifestyle with these simple, achievable tips.
I have a confession. I am probably the only health and fitness advocate in the world that hates New Year’s resolutions. Okay, maybe that makes me sound like a total downer. Let me explain,
I set “resolutions” every December. I just call them goals and not resolutions. To me, the word resolution sounds so…large. Resolving to make that big change you’ve been dreaming about for years. It just seems so unrealistic.
For me, I like to set small, achievable goals year round. This usually begins at the end of December and continues (full transparency) whenever I achieve them or, more likely, whenever I happen to remember. But I never stop thinking about those goals and actively working towards them.
1. Change the Way You “Resolve”
Take a look at your life and think about the big picture. What do you really want? I promise you, the answer is not to lose 100 lbs. If you want to lose 100lbs it is likely because you want to be healthier, happier, etc.
So you start with the big picture. Mine is to be constantly be striving towards becoming the happiest and the fittest I have ever been. It doesn’t typically change much from year to year, but when it does, I just start back at the beginning.
Once you have the big picture, break it down. How are you going to get there?
If you take one thing from this section let it be: think about the how, not the what.
That’s how people typically get to resolutions like live life to the fullest, lose weight, save money, unplug more, etc. But what if we take that a step further and think about the how? I like to drill things down to very, very small goals.
Ex: Live a healthier life –> lose weight –> exercise –> train for a half marathon –> run 3x per week for 12 weeks until race day –> follow X plan for mileage –> set my alarm for 5am tomorrow and get up and run for 30 minutes.
Yes, I’m telling you your goal should be something as simple as setting your alarm, getting up and going for a run. Then make a goal for the next day. Do this for 21 days. More on that later.
2. Make Yourself Accountable
I am that annoying person who posts all their fitness accomplishments on Facebook. You’ve probably judged me or someone like me a time or two before. There is a reason beyond narcissism. Promise.
When you tell a friend, family member, coworker, etc. about your goal, you instantly become accountable. The key is telling the right people who will hold you to that.
Using the above example of training for a half marathon, if you sign up with a friend and run with a group, you are way more likely to follow through than if you go it alone. Make sure your group will call you out if you fall back. You want that kind of tough love because making a lifestyle change is no joke.
3. Start Today
The whole reason I feel New Year’s resolutions usually don’t stick is because you are waiting for this specific day to make a change. How many times have you heard people say things like “I’ll start tomorrow!”, “After the first of the year….”, “On Monday…”. No. Just, no.
No. Just, no.
Today. Now. Rightthissecond.
Okay, right this second may not always be possible. I understand you are not going to get up from your desk at work and start your first training run. But do it today.
The hardest part of making a habit is taking the first step. The hardest part of going for a run is getting your running clothes on. Seriously, once you step outside, you’re not going to be like “Well, nevermind”, then change back into your regular clothes. Putting your shoes on is the beginning of your commitment.
4. Give Yourself the Tools to Succeed
Okay, so imagine you want to start working out at home, but have no tools to do so. How easy will it be to give up?
If your goal is to save $100 every month (because, remember, just saving money is too big – break it down!), setting up an automatic withdrawal to your savings account is an excellent tool. It’s right there in your banking app and it takes about 30 seconds.
If you have the tool, it does the resolution for you, but if you don’t, then you’re left to your own devices. And, if you’re anything like me, will choose that cute sweater over manually transferring the money over.
Fitness goals are a little trickier. They often require some level of financial commitment as well. People might tell you to start with running because it’s “free”, and I will tell you: hahahahahaha running is anything BUT free!
The point is, you have to give a little to get a lot. If you make a financial commitment, you’re likely to be more motivated to follow through. There are a ton of ways to do this, but a few of my favorites are sign up for a race,
There are a ton of ways to do this, but a few of my favorites are sign up for a race, build a home gym (I swear you can do it on a small budget!), sign up for a type of group fitness like CrossFit, Barre, Spin or whatever you like. Purchase P90X or Insanity videos and get a workout mat to give yourself a devoted workout space. The possibilities are endless.
The point is that you need to set yourself up to achieve your goal; you can’t just expect it to happen magically.
5. Now Continue for 21 Days
Research shows it takes 21 days to form a habit. To be honest, the number seems kind of arbitrary, but accurate or not, 3 weeks is a start. It’s an achievable amount of time. You’re not committing your entire life. You’re committing to 3 small weeks.
Once you’ve got your first 21 days down, go for another. And another.
My motto has always been little changes make a big difference. Add something to your life 21 days at a time. This helps you focused on the now, rather than getting overwhelmed by the bigger picture.
6. Once You Accomplish Your Goal, Choose Another
This part is usually easier than you think. Once you achieve that first goal, you will be on cloud 9.
As adults, we don’t get grades, report cards, etc. telling us what we’ve accomplished. We don’t have teachers telling us “Good job”. We have to develop our own self-assessments to determine our success and achievements.
The easiest way to do this is to set achievable goals with a clear ending. That’s why you don’t want to go with ‘live life to its fullest’. How would you ever know if you had done that?
Let’s say your goal was to eat 3 servings of veggies every day for 3 weeks. When those 3 weeks are up, you can continue this goal and add a new element, like only buy whole grains at the grocery store. After 3 weeks of that, you add the next step.
Of course, you will get to a point where you have achieved your big picture goal and it may be time to continue these habits but set new goals working towards a different big picture.
What are your tips for establishing a new lifestyle?