This is a time of year where most people are thinking about their New Year’s resolutions. If you walk into almost any store right now or look through the Sunday ads, it is pretty apparent that most people put fitness on the top of their resolution lists. Wouldn’t it be nice if making a change in this area were really as easy as buying a new treadmill?
Changing behavior is a difficult process and there are a lot of factors that contribute to someone’s willingness (or unwillingness) to change.
Of people that set New Year’s resolutions, just over 10% actually achieve them.
That’s a sad number. There are, however, some things you can do to beat those odds as you get started on your New Year’s resolutions.
1. Do a self-evaluation.
Are your goals reasonable and attainable? Have you done enough “homework”? Do you have good role models? All of these are good questions to start with, but you also need to dive into your personal reasons for wanting to make a change, look at the resources you have access to, and learn as much as you can about yourself.
2. Establish helping relationships.
It is important to have people that are going to help and support you as you work towards your goals. You may need to find a work-out buddy, ask someone that has a healthy lifestyle to mentor you, or it might be as simple as asking your spouse to be supportive and helpful.
3. Identify and remove obstacles.
Figure out what you foresee as being potential roadblocks to staying on track and then come up with 2-3 strategies to address each one of them so you have a list of “solutions” to fall back to when things don’t go as planned.
For example, if you are someone who will forget your work-out clothes and use that as an excuse to skip your training session, then pack two extra sets of work-out gear and keep them in your car. If you won’t show up when your work-out buddy cancels, then have two work-out buddies. I assure you every obstacle has a set of solutions. Be creative when thinking of potential solutions.
4. Remove negative cues.
It’s important to get rid of the things in your environment and social surroundings that could easily derail you. This step involves cutting ties with things that seem comfortable and sometimes can mean that you stop spending time with someone who is less than supportive of your efforts. Maybe you have to get rid of the candy jar on your desk or agree to meet with someone for lunch only if it’s at the park to eat a brown bag lunch. This step is definitely not easy, especially if it involves relationships with friends and family.
5. Reward yourself.
Research shows that self-changers rely more on a reward system than on punishing themselves. If you slip up, it’s okay. Don’t wait until tomorrow to restart working toward your goals. Instead, start over right that second. It’s also good to build rewards into your plans. Maybe you get to buy a new pair of running shoes after you’ve stayed on your running program for a consistent month or you get to spend an hour doing something you enjoy when you reach a certain progress point.
Written By: Danielle Kleber, ATC, Director of Marketing & Operations