Think Twice About Resolutions

By definition, resolution means to make “a firm decision to do or not to do something.” With synonyms like intention, resolve, intent, aim and my favorite: plan, “resolution” is a weighty term that indicates a readiness to do something and that thought has been put into a “firm decision.” It doesn’t make mention of a calendar date or t.v. personality making that decision for you.

Here’s the thing, the calendar doesn’t create change. I’ve written before about stage of change theory and assessing our readiness for something new. Simply entering a new year isn’t part of that readiness.

I’m choosing to view this time of year through a different lens and consider how we can mindfully approach our New Year “reset,” which in time can result in a firm decision to adopt a healthier lifestyle. Here are a few tips to complete a plan that is sure to result in reaching the goals you’re hoping to achieve in 2017.

Succotash Salad

Succotash Salad

Three Guiding Stars iconThree Guiding Stars indicate the best nutritional value. Simple, filling recipes like this Succotash Salad are a great place to start if you'd like to put more homemade meals on the table.

View recipe »

Start small.

I know that you want to begin working out every day, eating “perfectly” (your first tip…there’s no such thing as a perfect eater!) and following the advice of every article you read or t.v. segment you watch. However, if real change is your goal then I truly can’t think of a more doomed approach. Consider this as a marathon rather than a sprint. Start off too fast and you may need to quit before the finish line. I recommend a slow, progressive approach to change that enables you to view each achievable objective as a step toward achieving your main, bigger goal. For example, commit to having a daily plan for a healthful dinner as a step toward meeting your weight loss goal.

Be reasonable.

It is critically important to identify the factors in your life you can modify and well, those you can’t. For example, you can’t change the school schedule, so if you have young children, your workout may be impacted by this limitation. You can, however, make the choice to watch less t.v. and move more. Similarly, if you have never cooked before, it is unreasonable to expect that you will put a homemade meal on the table every night. Rather, begin with an approach to the plan/shop/cook process that you can succeed at.

Avoid labels and open yourself up to a new identity.

While you may not be able to modify that school schedule, you can change how you use your time and alter the way you view yourself. For example, you may label yourself as a “NOT a morning person,” but when was the last time you challenged this identity by trying to adopt an early gym routine that enabled you to begin your day knowing you already worked out? (I promise you… it’s a great feeling.) The bottom line is that your reset will only be successful (and ultimately become a resolution) if you ditch habits or labels that may be holding you back.

Take time to learn.

We all want to believe we can hit the gym running (literally) or whip up a healthful meal in 20 minutes or less like the magazine says, but unless you have the strength and stamina to run or the cooking abilities needed to move quickly, you are more likely to get hurt or frustrate yourself. Slow down and take time to embrace the new skills and strength you need to be successful and avoid setbacks.

Pause to review.

As a person who values the process as much as the result, taking time to pause and review is tops on my list of steps to success. Whether it’s to evaluate how far you’ve come or to consider what’s holding you back from achieving goals and setting resolutions at the pace you anticipated, pausing to review is critically important for ensuring your success.