Happy New Year’s! Can you believe it’s 2016 already? I personally love making resolutions on New Year’s, it makes me so excited for the year to come.
Resolutions are funny things. A good family friend of ours posted on Facebook this morning “Happy New Year! Remember what they say about resolutions: they go in one year and out the other.” I thought that was very fitting.
But really, we all make these amazing resolutions every year, and then a month later they’re completely forgotten. I know this–I used to work at a gym. We were always insanely busy the first three weeks, which was always stressful for us lifeguards, but we always just comforted each other by saying “Don’t worry–just two more weeks and they’ll all be gone.” Sad, but true.
I think the problem is that often we make these great resolutions but then completely fail to actually do anything to put them in place. We have all these great ideas but don’t actually DO anything about them. So I wanted to share with you what my resolutions are this year and what I’m going to do to make sure I stick to them!
1. Be active 5 days/week
This one is going to be hard for me, but not too bad. I already work out 3 days a week, but what I DON’T do is cardio. I strength train–I love powerlifting. But what I’ve been noticing is that even though I can actually squat quite a bit I can’t climb up 3 flights of stairs without losing my breath and that bothers me. So this year I’m going to keep doing what I’m doing but adding 2 days of light cardio a week.
2. Limit screen time
I’ve written about this a few times, but I don’t like how much time I spend on the computer. I want to have other hobbies, other interests, that don’t require a computer. I want to start reading again, start quilting again (yup, I’m that cool), and be more active because those are things that really bring me a lot of joy!
3. Be more joyful
I’m a very anxious person who is very susceptible to mood swings. I get in the dumps and I like to wallow there, let’s just be honest. I can get in a depressed mood very quickly and very easily, I just have a propensity for it. However, recognizing that, I understand that I also have the power to try and keep myself out of those moods by choosing to think positively instead of negatively. I am not depressed currently (you can experience depression and not actually be depressed), but I do believe that prevention strategies are important in making sure I stay in a healthy mental state, so I am going to pay more attention to taking care of myself mentally this year, helping me be more joyful and less stressed/depressed.
Note: what I said here and what I am going to discuss later in this post are not meant to be any advice or opinion on helpful strategies for diagnosable depression. I am someone who experiences bad days and can fall into depressive moods, not someone who has clinical depression and so anything I say is not meant to be taken as recommendations for someone suffering with a mental illness.
How to Keep your New Year’s Resolutions
1. Change your routine
Most of the time the things we’re trying to change are habits. Habits have become ingrained in our daily routines, so if you want to uproot a habit you’ve got to change the context it’s in. For me, with cardio, I don’t get up in time to workout two days a week, so my routine change will be that I wake up earlier on Tuesdays and Thursdays and force myself to get to the gym. You can’t just say “I’m going to work out more” you have to say “I’m going to work out at 7:30 in the morning twice a week extra” or “I’m going to do that yoga class on my way home from work on Wednesday” or whatever it is you want to do. Schedule it in!
2. Get rid of barriers
Usually we keep doing a negative habit or fail to pick up a positive one because there is something else perpetuating what we’re doing. For me, with screen time, I know that being tired makes me want to do nothing but goof off. Solution? Take better care of my sleep hygiene and get my 9 hours every night (yeah, I actually need 9 hours. It’s weird.) Having a hard time not impulse shopping? Leave your credit card at home and only carry cash, or find a way home from work that doesn’t require you walking through a mall. Look at triggers and eliminate them.
3. Have someone keep you accountable
It always helps to have someone checking up on you. Of course, for me, this is my husband. This could also work if you were doing this together with a friend, or if you have a family member you talk to on a weekly basis already who could ask you how you’re doing with your resolutions! From my experience, people like being part of your journey, so let them help you!
4. Have ways to keep yourself accountable
Even if you’re talking to a friend every week and they’re keeping you accountable, you’ve also got to learn how to motivate yourself from within to get what you need to do done! It’s just a good life skill to have. You can do that by setting up reminders on your phone, having a calendar you check off every day, or anything else that might remind you. I made a wallpaper for my phone with the three resolutions in the background so that whenever I look at my phone it says “stay off the screen!”
5. Make a list of why you want to change this habit
You are going to get disillusioned in a few weeks, trust me. So right now, while all your motivation is fresh and there, write down 5 reasons you want to keep each of your resolutions! When you are lacking motivation later, pull those out to remind you why you’re doing this!
6. Be wise in the resolutions that you make
You don’t want to make too many resolutions and you don’t want to make too difficult ones. What I find works is choosing 2-5 resolutions that are big-picture things (i.e., “get healthy” rather than “look exactly like a Victoria’s Secret model this time next year”) that are reflective of a lifestyle change rather than achieving a specific goal. Does it help you to pay off your debt if you don’t learn how not to over-spend? No, you just end up in the same place a few years later. It’s better to change your lifestyle than to achieve a specific goal–for instance, learning how not to overspend/impulse shop so that whether or not you have debt you will be spending well within your means.
7. Bite off small bits at a time
Now that you’ve chosen some good resolutions for yourself, don’t burn yourself out on them! You don’t want to say “I’m going to get healthier this year” and then throw out all of the food in the house and workout for 8 hours a day for the first week until you collapse in a tired, starving heap. That doesn’t help you at all. If you want to get healthier, pick one thing a month to change and slowly ease yourself into a new lifestyle. Don’t beat yourself up if you’re not perfect right off the bat–figure out realistic sub-goals within your larger ones to help give you a smoother transition as you change your lifestyle.
8. Translate your resolutions into achievable goals
With screen time, I want to make one day a week no-Netflix day. That is a lot easier to keep track of than just “less screen-time.” Similarly, I’m saying I want to do 30 min of cardio 2 times a week, rather than just “add more cardio to working out.” Make your resolutions goals that are easy to define, and therefore easier to keep tabs on.
9. Create checkpoints
Anytime you’re working towards a goal you’ve got to sit and re-assess. I’m going to have mini-checkpoints every Saturday, since I journal on Saturdays already so it works, and then big reviews every month to see if I’m asking too much or too little of myself, based on how easy it is. Maybe yours only need checking in every 3 months, or twice a year. Maybe you want to download a habit-tracker app and record it every day. Do whatever works for you.
Those are my best tips for you! What are some things you do to help you stay true to your New Year’s resolutions? What are you resolving to do this year? Let me know!