We can thank the ancient Babylonians for the practice of making resolutions as we enter each new year. The flooding of the Nile river (which was actually in March) symbolized the beginning of a new harvest season and they vowed to the gods to repay debts and return borrowed items in hopes of having a fertile and prosperous year. Eventually the Romans changed the calendar and January 1st became the start of the new year. Though the date has changed, for over 4,000 years humans across the globe have been making resolutions with the promise of a clean slate and new beginnings. There’s a problem with this process though- most people fail to meet their goal, making them a joke to some people and a purely negative experience for others.
Here are 7 easy steps to help you successfully achieve your New Year’s Resolution:
- Pick a goal you know is manageable and you’ll have success achieving. Weight loss is a very common resolution, but how you go about achieving it will set you up for failure or success. If you know you won’t be able to lose 20 pounds in 3 months, don’t choose it. Instead, make your goal to lose 10 pounds in 3 months. If you lose more, that’s a bonus (and hopefully you will have established some new, healthy habits along the way too).
- Clearly define your goal and make it measurable. If your goal is to lose 10 pounds in 3 months, aim for losing one pound per week. This will set you up for success and give you something to track weekly.
- Set action steps and track your progress. Weight loss is 90% about diet so plan out how you’re going to change your diet and plan out your meals each week. Eliminating anything processed and eating whole foods is a good place to start. Increasing your lean proteins, healthy fats, and vegetables, while reducing sugars (even from fruit) works well for most people. Incorporating exercise, stress reduction, and good sleep habits will further ensure success, so these can be steps in you process too.
- Tell others about your goal to keep yourself accountable. Post it on social media or tell your friends and family. You can post updates and pictures to track progress and let them cheer you on.
- Enlist the help of others that have been successful before you or those that will support you on your journey. If you have a family member or friend that has a similar goal, you can help each other through the process since we are typically more successful when we have a buddy. Alternatively, use a coach or a trained professional to help you reach your goal. They will have a plan and built in metrics to track your progress, as well as invaluable information when you encounter plateaus and obstacles on your journey.
- Give yourself small rewards as you reach milestones. If you want to lose one pound per week for 3 months, give yourself a small reward at the end of each of the 3 months.
- Celebrate once you achieve your goal! Be proud when you’ve kept your resolution and keep up the good work. At this point your lifestyle changes should’ve become habit. Contrary to the commonly held belief that it takes 21 days to form a new habit, research now suggests it is more like 66 days. The truth is that it’s different for all people and it is probably somewhere between 21-66 days.
If you habitually start a resolution and give up, maybe you shouldn’t make one. This way you’re not setting yourself up for failure and you won’t feel defeated. It’s perfectly fine not to have one. In fact, not setting a resolution might be liberating for you. When you decide to make a change or want to reach a goal, you can do it when you are ready. There’s no rule that says it has to be on January 1st or even at the beginning of the year. Have a wonderful new year whether you chose to have a resolution or not!