A Head Start on a Lasting Change

With Thanksgiving behind us—and we’re all still filled with the spirit of gratitude—would now be a good time to think about New Year’s resolutions? Think about it: if you identify those things you’d like to change in the coming year, and start laying the groundwork for those changes, you will be ahead of the game when January inevitably rolls around.

Manage Self-Sabotage

Because the month of December is riddled with potholes of opportunity to eat too much, drink too much, get less exercise and engage in other less than optimal activities, raising your awareness and reducing the damaging impact of a month of careless debauchery can make January less mind-jolting.

You want to lose weight after the gluttonous holidays have passed, great. If you haven’t sabotaged yourself and gained an extra 10 pounds by January, I assure you: you won’t be disappointed.

For many of us, the holiday season is a free-for-all, and we tell ourselves that we’ll get back on track after the first of the year. We give ourselves permission to graze unfettered, munching on numerous delectable goodies that crop up seemingly everywhere, during the holidays. We gain extra weight, only to have to fight valiantly to peel it from our bodies the following month. Isn’t this a form of self-destructive behavior? And, if we’re being honest, if we pack on 10 pounds in December only to be successful in losing 10 pounds in January, what have we truly gained (or lost)?

What about other resolutions? Why wait until the first of the year to implement changes that you know you want to make? It’s like we give ourselves permission to keep doing the thing we know we shouldn’t, but we put an artificial deadline on our naughtiness. We tell ourselves, ‘I’m going to (insert your planned behavioral change) on January 1st,’ thereby giving ourselves permission to indulge until the new year arrives. Wait, what?

Plan Your Plan

Let’s make a plan to start thinking about New Year’s resolutions for 2018. Thirty-five percent of people don’t succeed in their resolutions because they set unrealistic goals that are simply not attainable. (Have you ever seen the veggie-noshing folks slogging through arduous workouts at the gym, when they haven’t seen the inside of a gym since last year’s failed attempt at losing weight and getting in shape?) Other reasons people don’t succeed at their resolutions are variations of the main reason: 23 percent forgot about their resolutions (read: it was hard, so they quit), and another 33 percent didn’t track their results (again, too hard/unattainable). That’s a 91 percent failure rate!

Armed with that information, let’s work on creating realistic, achievable goals that you can stick with for the long-term:

  1. 1. Select your resolution. Take some time and do some soul-searching. Pick the one thing that you’d most like to change in your life, rather than creating an exhaustive list of every nit-picking flaw you perceive about yourself. If you’d like to make other changes, great—but work on just one resolution at a time.

  3. 2. Plan your attack. Once you have identified your unique New Year’s resolution, make a plan to set yourself up for success. For example, if your goal is to lose weight, in advance of the start date, get rid of the junk food and other temptations in your kitchen and purchase the foods you plan to eat with your new lifestyle. You can also purchase any new work-out clothes and equipment you will need.

  5. 3. Prepare mentally. Envision your new self after you have successfully implemented your transformation. Understand that any change is hard and modifying habits and behaviors is difficult—after all, if it were easy, you would have done it long ago.

  7. 4. Accept the reality of setbacks. If you experience a miss-step, be gentle on yourself and begin again—don’t throw in the towel. It happens: pick yourself up, brush yourself off and get back in the game.

  9. 5. Celebrate your successes. Plan rewards for achieving milestones. It can make it easier to stick with new changes if you know you will be rewarded at various intervals. Incentives really do work.

Go on, try it! Get the jump on your 2018 New Year’s resolution and set yourself up for a fantastic new year while you enjoy celebrating the conclusion of 2017, knowing you have a solid plan for success already in place.