I've said it before and I'll say it again: New Year's resolutions suck. They're like diets. People chase after new ones year after year, always expecting success, only to be disappointed by failure. Instead of representing a deeply held desire, resolutions have become something people "try," then usually abandon within weeks.
This January, set a new course. Use these five strategies to get past those tired old New Year's resolutions and master the art of goal setting once and for all.
1. Pick Only 1 or 2 Goals
So, you want 2018 to be different? Awesome! What exactly do you want to achieve? Resolutions often fail because people's goals are too vague and too many.
"This year, I want to get healthy." That's all well and good, but what does that look like? Does that mean losing 60 pounds? Is it your doctor telling you you're no longer on the verge of Type 2 diabetes? Maybe it's finally getting off that blood pressure medication or fitting into size 8 jeans again.
All of these are realistic, achievable goals. I've had multiple clients reach these kinds of milestones—and more! To make change, you have to know that what you want to do is possible, and be specific about it.
In general, people tend to pick way too many goals. They overload themselves with so many resolutions that they just can't keep up. This year, pick one or two specific, achievable goals.
What is it you want to change more than anything? Now decide that you will, in no uncertain terms. You can do it!
2. Plan Your Reward
Now that you've decided to make a positive change in your health, decide how you'll reward yourself for your success. This is very important, because you need to enter into your decision believing that you will achieve your goal.
Another reason resolutions fail is because, most of the time, people don't actually believe they can stick to them. You set yourself up for success by believing in yourself—by deeply believing that you deserveto live a healthier life, and that you deserve to be rewarded for reaching a hard-fought goal!
Whatever you choose to accomplish, pick a reward that you really want. It could be a shopping trip to a store where the clothes never fit you before. Maybe it's a vacation to a beach resort where you can show off your new body. It could be a new car, or maybe just a day at the park with your grandkids.
Whatever it is, make your reward something truly special to you. Just don't make it about food. Stick to your meal plan and find other ways to celebrate.
3. Start With a Clean Slate
Social media is an integral part of so many people's lives, so if you're going to clear out your cupboard, it's time to clear out your newsfeed, too.
Think about it. How are you supposed to set your mind to a healthier way of living with ads and posts like "It's wine-thirty!" and "Best Muffin Recipe Ever" popping up on your phone every 5 minutes?
One of the rules I set for my clients is to keep junk-food out of the house. The idea is to remove unhealthy food and habits from your immediate environment. How is that going to work if all your friends are posting their favorite brownie recipes on Facebook, or posting pictures of their cupcakes on Instagram?
If you want to live a healthier life and start losing weight, do yourself a favor: Clear out that newsfeed.
4. Consider Your Friends
There's an old saying: "Show me your friends and I'll show you your future." Take a look at your friends. Are they overweight, sedentary people? Do your social calls land you at the bar or pastry shop? If drinks and donuts won't advance your progress, then maybe those friends won't either.
I'm not suggesting that you ditch your friends, but I am saying that spending time with like-minded people will help you reach your goals. There's no law saying you can't suggest to your Starbucks friends that you go for a hike or take a yoga class instead. Trust me, your real friends will stay your friends even when you try to change the things you do together.
The fact is, people adopt the habits of the people around them. If you spend time with people who drink and smoke, you're more likely to do the same. It's the same with people who eat clean and work out. The choice is yours.
5. Pick Your Hard—Because It's All Freaking Hard
As we enter another year, it's just human nature to re-evaluate ourselves. A lot of people will consider changing their lifestyles and decide it's too hard to try. I agree; it is hard.
Changing what you buy at the grocery store is hard. Learning to cook food instead of microwave it is hard. Reducing your consumption of excess added sugars is very hard—even painful—for some people. There's no question; changing your lifestyle is hard.
But being pre-diabetic is hard, too. So is keeping track of numerous medications, suffering from joint pain and shortness of breath, or sitting on the couch while your grandchildren run around outside.
So, pick your hard. Either path you take is not going to be easy, but only one of them will take you where you want to go.