Shayna Schmidt | Jan. 4, 2019
It happens every year. We make resolutions, despite our friends scoffing at us and claiming that they never work, or that no one keeps them. It's pretty common joke, after all, that gym crowds surge in January, only to thin back out by mid-February. It can almost seem like resolutions are meant to be broken.
So how can we use resolutions as they’re meant to be used, as optimistic and productive ways to set goals for the new year? Deciding to make a positive change is always a good idea. The problem, in our opinion here at Livekick, is that typically people bite off more than they can chew. They resolve to eat no carbs for the entirety of 2019, for example, or to start running every single day when they’re currently a couch potato. The problem isn’t necessarily that we aren’t capable of sticking to our resolutions, but instead that we need to do a better job of making resolutions that are smart, actionable, and realistic. Otherwise, we’re setting ourselves up to fail.
"Change is hard. We are creatures of habit," says Ian Newby-Clark, psychologist at the University of Guelph. We don’t fail at changing our habits because we’re bad people, he says. We fail because, "Simply put, habits are extremely hard to change. They're hard to change because they're so ingrained, because they're so almost-automatic.” Experts like Newby-Clark who work with people to push past barriers and make lasting changes, know that the issues that can hold people back from reaching their goals may surface before they've even attempted to change anything.
If you want to set yourself up for the best chance of success, start with these smart tips for making better resolutions to which you can actually stick.
Start small. It’s great to dream big and think of the big picture overall, but creating a resolution that's too big sets you up for failure. The first key to success is zeroing in on one goal, not three. Then do a quick reality check. "Look at the level of commitment it will require to achieve, and consider if you'll be able to match it," says Larry Kubiak, Ph.D., director of psychological services at Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Are you really going to be able to swear off chocolate completely? Unlikely. Limiting your chocolate-munching to 70% or darker and eating a square 2-3 times per week would be much more achievable.
Find your WHY. When we set goals, they should be important–not just simple wants, but deep-seated, heartfelt, meaningful desires. Make your New Year's resolution value-based. Ask yourself why you chose this goal. For example, if my resolution is to lose 15 pounds, I could simply say because my doctor told me it would make me healthier. But this isn’t a personal reason. What if you remind yourself of the fact that you have always had a bucket list goal of running a marathon? Or the fact that you want to live long enough to see your grandchildren grow up? Concentrating on these important meanings in your life will invigorate your resolutions and not allow you to simply “forget” that you even made them.
Make an announcement. We're more likely to achieve our resolutions when we make them public. A weight loss research study conducted by Ray Wu, M.D. from Cornell Medical School, showed that people who posted progress photos documenting their weight loss lost 1.2 lbs. per week, compared to 0.27 lbs. lost when they didn’t use the sharing platform. Strong social circles are seen as very effective in combating obesity. In a 2013 research study published in Translational Behavioral Medicine, participants who published their weight loss progress on Twitter lost more weight than those who kept their progress to themselves. So, tell your best friend about your New Year's resolution, and check in with her to chat about it and make sure you're on track.
Ask for help. No one does it alone! A new year is a great time to lean on a professional to help you start a new habit. For example, starting up with a Livekick personal trainer or yoga teacher can be a great way to jumpstart your resolutions. This professional can help you determine some S.M.A.R.T. (smart, measurable, attainable, realistic, timely) goals for 2019. And can teach you lots of new things! Perhaps you thought fitness was all about running and weights. Wrong! Learn something new, like a sun salutation, from Livekick yoga teacher Beatrice P. Doesn’t that sound fun?!