We’ve all heard that a New Year means a New You, but isn’t that an incredibly daunting thought? It’s overwhelming to think that in the New Year, we should all revamp our lives to rid ourselves on the bad habits we’ve fallen into, and instantly emerge as the best possible versions of who we can be. The problem with New Year’s resolutions isn’t the desire we have to become better people—it’s the unrealistic expectation of making dramatic changes that will last. We shouldn’t look at the New Year as a time to completely leave our old selves in the past, but rather to reflect on what we did well, what we could have done better, and how to make those changes in ways that will stick. Wouldn’t it be helpful if someone gave you some tips for keeping New Year’s resolutions?
Rolling out a mile-long list of things to do differently this year is essentially setting yourself up for failure. By creating a surplus of lofty goals, you jeopardize your success of completing any of them, because when you fail at one, you may be too discouraged to persevere through the rest. January 1st doesn’t have to be the starting point for every, single change you want to make this year—setting up small goals on a timeline greatly increases the likelihood that you’ll succeed. Here are 5 tips for keeping your New Year’s resolutions to help you work toward being a happier and healthier you!
1. Don’t Over Commit
Regular gym-goers are all too familiar with the influx of people who begin working out in January; they’re also familiar with those newcomers tapering out by early March. If you look back on the past year, realize that your best intentions fell by the wayside, and you didn’t exercise much at all, changing that is a great goal for the New Year. However, if you think you’re going to go from working out zero days a week to seven, you’re sorely mistaken.
Start small by scheduling exercise into your life two or three days a week. Even a few 30-minute cardio sessions to get you started is a step in the right direction. If your resolution is to start eating healthier, don’t immediately cut all sweets, carbs, fats, etc. from your diet because of some fad diet—looking at healthy eating as a punishment or deprivation creates a negative mental association that will deter you from sticking with it. Start by having fruit or a Greek yogurt after dinner instead of ice cream, or snacking on an apple at your desk instead of a bag of chips. When you over commit to a regimen that’s beyond your capabilities, you’ll feel really discouraged the first time you slip up, which usually snowballs into dropping the commitment altogether. This may be one of the most overlooked tips for keeping new year’s resolutions!
2. Slow and Steady Wins the Race
We laugh when people use these old-timey idioms, but they’re grounded in truth. Think about any unhealthy habits you have, like smoking, eating junk food, or being excessively lethargic. These aren’t things that happened overnight; they took time to develop. Likewise, it’ll take time to replace those bad habits with good ones! By replacing one behavior at a time, in incremental steps, you give yourself the necessary time to acclimate to the change both mentally and physically.
3. The Buddy System
Almost anything is easier to do when you have help from a friend. Chances are that any positive change you’re looking to make to your own life, you have at least a friend or two who would benefit from making the same change. If your resolution is to eat healthier, get a pal to commit to changing too, and go grocery shopping together. You can also cook together, or go out to eat together; it’s more encouraging when the person sitting opposite you is also eating healthy than when they’re wolfing down a three pound cheeseburger.
Having a gym buddy is also a great way to stick to a schedule—feeling like you’re committed to someone else is great motivation to following through with something. For example, many students feel that they do better in on-campus classes, as opposed to online classes, because of the sense of responsibility to hand things in on-time and in-person. When you fail to submit something online, you don’t have a disappointed professor standing in front of you. Likewise, when your friend is excited about going to the gym, you’re less likely to bail and disappoint them.
4. Get the Support Your Need
No matter what change you’re looking to make, you’re not alone in doing so. There are people all over the world working toward the same goals as you are, and they need support just as much as you do! Social media has changed the way we do so many things in our daily lives, and this is no exception. Look into what you want to do, whether it’s starting a workout routine, getting into yoga, eating healthy, and then search for it on social media.
On Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, and Google+, you can type any keyword as a hashtag to discover how people are talking about different interests. When you search “#yoga,” you’ll find a collection of motivational quotes, different yoga poses to try, and even instructional videos on how to do them. There are a ton of people who have pulled together online communities that revolve around similar interests, so get searching! You can start a blog to track your progress, or get involved in a number of other niche social media platforms.
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5. A Body in Motion Stays in Motion
Newton was on to something when he published his first law—the law of inertia. Newton found that an object will stay at rest until it’s acted upon by an external force: he was talking to you, guy on the couch with the remote in one hand and the other in a bowl of popcorn!
Once you get started on making positive changes, you can’t stop! Staying on track and working hard to get where you want to be has exponential positive effects. You’ll come to find that the further you get along your path to success, other things just seem to fall into place and work out for you. If you feel tired all the time, and you never seem to be able to get everything done because you’re always exhausted, one minor change can be the catalyst to a healthy living overhaul. Here’s an example scenario:
You’re tired all the time, but you finally muster up the motivation to get to the gym. You work out for an hour, and you’re absolutely exhausted. You get home, take a shower, and promptly collapse on your bed. When you wake up in the morning, you feel refreshed, and are surprised because you can’t remember the last time you felt you had a truly, restful night’s sleep.
Feeling good when you wake up (on time, without having to snooze your alarm six times), you open the fridge and decide to sit down with a cup of coffee and a bowl of healthy cereal, instead of just grabbing a sugary breakfast pastry as you hurry out the door. When everyone in your office orders pizza for lunch, maybe you feel like getting a salad instead, since you started your day with a healthy choice.
Your positive buzz still hasn’t worn off after work, so instead of going home and crashing on the couch, you decide to drop into a kickboxing class. You leave sweaty and exhausted, but you remember how much you loved it when you were going regularly, and wonder why you stopped.
At home, you grill up some chicken because you could use the protein, and pair it with some dark greens and whole wheat pasta for some post-workout carbs. You finally get into bed, and you’re so tired that you don’t stay up until three in the morning browsing Facebook. Rinse and repeat!
It’s not a guarantee that the first time you hit the gym, these will be the results, but positive change will ignite more positive change, it just takes more time for some than others. The most important part is not to give up.
We hope our tips for keeping New Year’s resolutions helped! What changes do you plan on making in the New Year? Tweet them to us and let us know how you plan on taking steps toward a happier, healthier you!