Wow, that was fun! We ate, we drank, we skipped exercising but gave our credit cards a good workout, we stayed up late, we slept in. But now our clothes are too tight, our schedules are way off kilter, we’re broke, and we need a vacation to rest up after our vacation.
Welcome to January.
But all is not lost. You can get back on track now, whether you’ve been overindulging for a few weeks … months – or even years. Let’s get started:
1: Set Specific Goals
And make sure they’re specific – and realistic. “Save x dollars from each paycheck” is specific, “stop spending so much” is not, and “never buy anything again” is totally unrealistic. Come up with some actin items that will get you were you want to be. And 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 a little more, exercising a little longer, etc.
2: Make it fun
If your resolution was to get fit, find a way to do it that is at least somewhat enjoyable. When you discover the fitness activities you don’t dread doing, it’ll be much easier to keep active. If it’s 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, update them as you succeed, and keep at it.
3: Set yourself up for success
Figure out how you’re going to manage issues that might get you off track. Can’t walk in the winter because it’s too cold? Find a nearby mall. Trying to save money? Remove the auto-pay info from your web browser, and put your credit cards into a deep freeze. Love bedtime snacks? Find something that’s healthy to eat and stock up on it, rather than demolishing all the leftovers at midnight. Think through your challenges, and find ways to manage them before you’re confronted with temptation.
4: Do Your Best
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 make the best choices that 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 excuses for yourself either. Demand your best effort.
5: Make health your financial priority
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 virtual visits with 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.