We said goodbye to the year 2015 and rang in the shiny, new 2016. Many of us will take this as an opportunity to examine our lives, determine what we want to do differently going forward, and commit to making that change in a New Year’s resolution.
Based on last year’s statistics on New Year’s resolutions summarized through research by the University of Scranton, almost half of us will make such a resolution this year. The top resolution? No big surprise here—lose weight. How many of us will succeed with our resolution? (Hint: think small.) Only around 8 percent. And though early on it may appear that we’re sticking to our resolutions, check in after about six months. That’s when less than half of us who made a resolution are still on track.
So whether your resolution is to lose weight, walk 10,000 steps a day, cut back on sugar intake, or make any other change that improves your health and well-being, making lasting change is hard. However, if 8 percent of us can do it, clearly it’s not impossible. Consider these three tips to increase your odds for success.
1. Set a single, realistic and measurable goal
One of the biggest mistakes people make is trying to change too much too quickly. Slow down. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Remember, if you meet your goal, you can always set another one. Plus, success feels good and may foster further success through positive reinforcement.
A Forbes post advises us to set small, realistic goals and to make those goals tangible, or measurable. After all, if you say that you want to eat healthier, what does that really mean, and how will you know when you’ve achieved it? Instead, say something like: for the month of January, eat four servings of fruits or vegetables every day.
2. Good intentions only take you so far—make a plan
If someone made the New Year’s resolution of “This year, I’m going to build and launch a space rocket” without considering what goes into building one, what are the chances of success? Instead, as entrepreneur.com suggests, break down how you plan to achieve your goal in bite-size pieces:
Get aeronautical engineering degree
Draft up a schematic plan
Build space rocket
Test space rocket for quality assurance
Launch space rocket
While obviously that example is tongue in cheek, it might help to figure out how you’ll achieve your health goal. If you plan to run a half marathon, look at the many training schedules that help build up your endurance and get a watch or app that does activity tracking. If you need to, schedule the days and times that you’ll run. For example, if you have younger children, you obviously can’t just head out the door to run whenever you want—you have to set up childcare so that you can go for a run. The key here is to make sure you have created the optimal environment for success.
3. Be accountable
To me, finding a way to stay accountable to your resolution seems like the biggest ingredient for success. It’s why groups like Weight Watchers that have you check in regularly work. Making a resolution in secret and with nobody to hold you to it is a resolution that can quickly disappear into the woodwork when it gets too difficult or you lose motivation and interest.
So write down your resolution, and then join a club or team with others who have the same goal. Often, just the act of having a shared goal can make achieving that resolution fun and filled with camaraderie. As this article that encourages runners to join a running club advices, joining a running club boosts your motivation because club members expect you to show up for scheduled runs. That expectation makes you think twice before deciding to skip a workout.
Let improved health be the reward
Ultimately, many of us will make a New Year’s resolution that focuses on doing something to improve our health. When we find that we have more energy because we are eating a healthier diet and exercising regularly, it’s hard to turn back to old ways. I found this to be true when I began paying attention to what I ate and switched to a more nutritious way of eating.
If eating a more nutritious diet is part of your New Year’s resolution, here’s a commitment you can stick to: make at least one recipe from Saladmenu.com each week in 2016. Commit in the comments on this blog post, and then come back and share what you made and your thoughts about it.
Here’s a recipe for my sister’s Raw Cauliflower Salad to get you started. This salad has great holiday colors, is high in fiber, but is low in calories. Plus, it simply tastes great.
With that, I wish you a very Happy New Year!