The New Year is often seen as a time for re-birth, a time to take stock of the year gone by and start anew. We all vow to make better decisions about our lives. Whether these decisions involve losing the holiday pounds, seeing family more often, or even finding love; New Year’s resolutions are a universal norm. Most people set themselves up for disappointment and ultimately failure, by setting unrealistic goals, while some people are just too hard on themselves; not being able to resist a piece of birthday cake is not the end of the world.
Resolutions are made at the worst time of the year, after you’ve gorged more food in 12 days than you did in the past 3 months, splurged on gifts and binged on new year’s eve. January 1st comes along and you expect to wake up a “whole new you” never mind the mental and physical toll you put on your body during the past month. This is the number one reason why more than 90%of resolutions fail.
Setting a course that lacks clear achievable goals that lead to constant improvement is the key to success. Technology and a bit of science can help with this. Self improvement is about making singular adjustments, charting progress, and learning from mistakes; rather than relying on intuition. Super charging your resolutions, even when the excitement wears off and the realities of January sink in, is not as impossible as some may think.
- Set a baseline
Don’t run off to the gym on January 2nd. It is important to first know where you are, in terms of your normal activity, in order to chart a realistic course. How far can you run? How many squats can you do? On an average day, how many hours are you active? What do you eat and how much sleep do you get daily? Log everything for a week then sit down and figure out what needs improving.
- Quantify your goals.
This may sound obvious, but is entirely ignored. For example, “I plan to lose weight” is a common resolution and a very silly path to follow if you’re looking for a better body. Scientifically speaking, muscle is heavier than fat, so you may lose the love handles and gain a pound or two. Does this mean that you’ve failed? Instead of goals such as “go to the gym more” or “walk more” resolve to visit the gym at least twice every week and be fairly active for 3 hours every day. These are quantifiable goals that can easily be measured.
- Look for anomalies
No matter what you’ve resolved to do, life gets in the way. We all have days when it’s barely possible to get out of bed, let alone hit the gym. These are the days when a little preparedness goes a long way in ensuring that you don’t sabotage yourself. If you find it hard to resist all the junk at the office, start your day with a quick fix meal. If you find it difficult to resist eating fries for lunch, carry along a cheesy chicken rice casserole. It takes minutes to make, tastes great and is much healthier.
Do not make the changes in your life so severe that they are unsustainable. You will have another piece of chocolate cake at some point in your life, and you will shop at another sale, just not today, and not so much that you end up at square one after 3 months of good work. Re-commit and vow not to quit.