Every. Single. Year.
It is the same routine. October means eating too much candy. November marks the beginning of gluttonous over-indulgence. December is a month-long feast of fatty goodness and sugary delights. Come January, you are ready to resolve that this year, this year will be the year. This will be the year you finally lose weight, quit smoking and save money. Sound familiar?
Only 8 percent of the nearly 50 percent of Americans that set New Year’s resolutions each year, achieve their resolutions within the year. Those are pretty tough odds. So, what can you do to ensure you are not part of the majority?
- Think small. It may not seem like it, but goals like weight loss, quitting smoking and saving money are pretty big goals. Without a plan of action that drives success along the way, you are likely to give up shortly after you start. A whopping 30 percent of resolution setters do not even keep their resolutions through the end of January.
- Set multiple short-term resolutions. Instead of looking at the year as a whole, pick increments of time to achieve small resolutions that will get you to the big picture. For example, if you want to lose weight, try setting the resolution that by the end of January, you will successfully drink 100 ounces of water daily and by March 1st, you will eat the equivalent of 4 cups of vegetables a day or cut out all sugary soft drinks.
- Don’t tackle too much. Successful changes happen gradually. Think about shows like Extreme Makeover, the transitions happened so fast that very few people maintained their new appearance. You have to evolve into an individual that doesn’t smoke or that exercises daily or saves 10 percent of their paycheck. It doesn’t happen overnight because old habits truly die hard. So, don’t try to quit smoking, lose weight and save more money all in the same year. There are few people who could achieve such feats all in a single year.
- Be consistent.The scale won’t budge just because you have decided that you are on a diet. However, day after day, week after week, your good habits will slowly add up to achievement of your weight loss goal, much like a dollar a day, over the course of a year, in your piggy bank will save you $365. Without that dollar every day, it simply won’t add up.
- Perfection is overrated. You do not have to be perfect all the time. Don’t berrate yourself for slip-ups – allow yourself a small learning curve as you ease into your new habits. “Cold turkey” changes that last are rare.
- Timely rewards. Treat yourself for achieveing each of your small resolutions along the way. Did you make it a whole week without a cigarette? Reward yourself with your favorite dessert or a manicure. Did you make it to the gym three times over the course of the last two weeks? Indulge in a fat-free reward like a new pair of shoes or a massage.
- Establish accountability. Keeping your resolutions a secret is likely to set you up for failure. Let your friends and family members know your goals. This will help you establish a network of support and keep you from temptation.
Whatever your resolutions for this year, create a plan to keep you focused and finding success every step of the way – remember, you must learn to crawl before you can walk.