Keeping Those New Year’s Resolutions

Now that we’re a few weeks into 2017, it seems like a good time to ask: how’s it going with your New Year Resolutions?

If that question made you a little sad, you’re not the only one. By February 1, those resolutions are already just fond memory for about two-thirds of all Americans. And when January 31 rolls around again, only 8% of us will have stuck to our 2017 resolutions.

So what does that 8% know that the rest of us don’t? You’re much more likely to stick to those promises that you made to yourself if:

1: Make it fun

If your resolution was to get fit, find a way to do it that is at least somewhat enjoyable. What that means in practical terms is something only you can figure out, and you may have to try a few things before you decide. When you discover the fitness activities you don’t dread, it’ll be much easier to keep active. If its been a long time since you worked out, take it easy – a stroll around the block is probably far more achievable at first than brisk walk of a mile. Working with a personal trainer, in real life or online, can help you set realistic goals – you need “skill-power” along with will-power. Ditto for reducing calories, learning a foreign language, saving money, etc. Set reasonable goals and keep at it.

2: Set Specific Goals

This ties into #1, above. Make your goals realistic and specific. “Save x dollars from each paycheck” is specific, “stop spending so much” is not. Consider scheduling a check-in with yourself every three months to review your progress, revive your enthusiasm, and perhaps ramp up your goals to the next level of achievement – saving more, exercising a little longer, etc.

3: Recognize that any big change is hard work

Achieving your resolutions – especially health and fitness ones – can take a lot of attention and time at first. Sometimes life gets in the way of our best intentions. If your work or home life becomes really demanding, you may need to ease off a bit on those resolutions. Don’t quit, just do what you can until life settles down a bit and then start again. Sometimes it takes a few tries before you’re truly ready to make changes. That said, don’t make it too easy on yourself! There will never be a perfect time to make a big change.

4: Reevaluate your definition of “treat”

If your idea of a reward after a long week is a sugary, gooey snack,  or skipping your workout – rethink how you’re caring for yourself. Show yourself how much you care by eating nutritious food, being active, spending your money wisely, and making sure you have a good work-life balance. Feeling great is the best treat you can give yourself.

5: Set yourself up for success

Figure out how you’re going to manage situations, people and places that might sway you from your goals. Can’t walk in the winter because it’s too cold? Find a nearby mall and head there for your workout. Do co-workers bring in snacks? Have your own healthy treats handy or plan on taking a sociable bite or two of the cake/cookie/whatever. Quitting smoking? Find another way to take a little downtime rather than heading to the smoker’s area. Set up an internet filter to block your access to your favorite online stores. Think through your challenges, and find ways to manage them before you’re confronted with temptation.

Don’t Let Tight Budgets Stop You

It’s easier to make changes when you can afford the healthy food, gym memberships, and health care that you need to live well. But there are options if you look for them. Unprocessed food is often cheaper than fast foods – borrow some cookbooks to learn how to cook healthier options. Use your stairs at home or at the office for a workout. Get a dental savings plan – which cuts dental costs by 10%-60% – so that you can afford to visit the dentist. Consider telehealth plans for free or greatly reduced access to doctors, nutritionists and financial experts.

The most important tip of all is to keep trying. Don’t wait for New Year’s to turn your life around. There’s no better time to start working towards a healthier, happier you than right now.

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