New Year's has come and gone again, and if you are like most people, you probably made some New Year's resolutions, and if you are like the 90% of us that fail to follow through on our resolutions year after year, you are not alone.
The key is to set goals that are attainable by breaking your bigger goals into smaller steps. For example, if you want to lose 25 pounds this year, then restate your goal to “lose 2 pounds a month by walking 5 times a week,starting at whatever level is comfortable for you and working up to 30 minutes or more and by cutting down on sugar and and junk food”. When writing your goals, use SMART goals - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
Also, ditch the “all or nothing” attitude. Most people will have setbacks, so don't give up just because you blew off your diet on a weekend bender.
The Top 10 New Year’s Resolutions Most of us Fail to Accomplish:
1. Get more exercise. You say you don't have time. You joined a gym in December and only went a few times. Try these ideas: * Park in a space farther from the store or work than you usually would, adding a few extra steps each way. Take the stairs instead of an escalator or elevator whenever possible. * You don't necessarily need a gym membership. You can create your own gym at home. A stationary bike, a set of resistance bands or dumbells, and you’re in business. *Get a standing desk. If you can afford it, get a treadmill desk. This keeps you moving when you'd otherwise be sitting for hours.
2. Lose weight. This may be the most popular New Year’s resolution of all, and the one that gets dropped rather quickly. We all think of dieting when trying to lose weight, but a better strategy is to think about permanent lifestyle changes. Starving yourself is not healthy and does not work long term. Instead cut back on sugar and junk foods, limit your portions of food and start an exercise program. * Drink adequate water. Most recommendations are to make 64 ounces a day your minimum. * Eat more fruits and vegetables. Instead of fruit juices, eat fruit. Try whole grain brown rice instead of white rice and substitute sweet potatoes for white potatoes. * Use a smaller plate. Eat 5-6 smaller meals rather than 3 big ones. Stop drinking sodas, both diet sodas and regular sodas full of sugar. * Avoid eating one hour before bedtime.
3. Get more sleep. Nothing wears you down more than not sleeping well. Scientists tell us that we need sleep to lose weight and be productive, so get to bed and enjoy your rest. If you have trouble falling asleep, try these tips * Keep your bedroom cool and dark and put that iPad away before bed. * If you find yourself waking up in the middle of the night with things on your mind, keep a pad and pen by your nightstand and write down what’s bothering you so you can get back to sleep. * Once you have a sleep routine down where you are getting 7-9 hours of sleep per night, stick with it - even on weekends. Try to turn in and wake up at the same time every day.
4. Cut back on your alcohol intake. Drinking can cause a number of problems from simple hangovers to poor sleep patterns. If you drink more than once a week, there is probably room for cutting back. * Instead of drinking a glass of wine or two every night, try one glass every other night. * Mix in a glass of water between cocktails. * Take a week off from drinking and see how much better you feel. You will have more energy and get more done.
5. Stop smoking. In the 1970s about 70% of Americans smoked cigarettes, but that number has been cut in half since we have become aware of all the health problems related to smoking. Even so, quitting smoking can be one of the hardest resolution to keep. Some people can throw their last pack away and not have any trouble giving up the habit. But most smokers are physically addicted to the nicotine and withdrawal symptoms are extremely unpleasant. Here are some tips to help you quit: * Keep gum, mints, carrots and celery close at hand. Chew on something helps. * Take long deep breaths frequently and reflect that the farther you get away from your last cigarette, the easier it will be to quit once and for all. * Your attitude is the most important part of quitting. Talk to friends that have quit smoking or read up on the subject online. * Make a list of reasons to quit smoking and tape them to your bathroom mirror.
6. Start to handle your stress. Stress can be a negative force in our lives and it can cause many health problems. The good news is that there are many ways to eliminate stress from meditation and exercise to socializing with others and counseling with a professional. Here are some ways to reduce stress: * Study the subject of mindfulness and meditation. * Do exercises like jogging and yoga.
7. Find a new job. If you are not happy with your job, then it may be time for a change. Start analyzing why you're unhappy. Is the problem your job duties, or is it your boss, the company or the industry? If the problem is your job duties, then look into new jobs that you might enjoy more. The world is full of lawyers and accountants that change careers in the middle of life. If you want to change jobs, get ready before you jump: * Update your resume. * Go back to school and learn a new trade. * Put the word out to friends and family that you are looking for a new thing. The best way to get a new job is through a referral. * Try working harder at your job and ask for more responsibility before you jump.
8. Spend more time with your family and friends. Instead of putting in extra hours at work, put in extra hours with your kids, your spouse or your parents and siblings. If you are looking to stay connected with friends and family, try these rituals: * Call your parents or family members who do not live nearby on a regular basis. * Keep in touch with friends. * Throw a small dinner party. * Schedule morning coffees so it doesn’t interfere with your daily routine at work.
9. Start learning again. Take a course online or a night course at the local college or try teaching a class on something you are passionate about. Do it for fun and discover how enjoyable learning can be. You might even find a new vocation. * Do some research online to find out what’s out there.
10. Travel with friends or family. Get out of your comfort zone and go somewhere you've never been before. Nothing perks up your inner self than spending some time in a new, exciting place. You'll return refreshed and rejuvenated. * Make a list of places you want to visit and make a plan to visit one new city each year. * Keep an eye out for travel deals and save some money by going during the shoulder season rather than in-season. * Join hotel and vacation clubs to rack up points and save money. * Talk to friends about vacations they have enjoyed the most. * The key to making habit changes stick is to tackle things one at a time and follow through.
If you are interested in learning more about changing your habits, check out this blog article entitled “How to Build a New Habit: This is Your Strategy Guide” by James Clear. On his website James says he studies “successful people across a wide range of disciplines — entrepreneurs, artists, athletes, and more — to uncover the habits and routines that make these people the best at what they do. Then, I share what I learn in my popular email newsletter.” Check him out!