Why is it so tough?
Did you make a New Year’s Resolution?
Are you among the sixty percent who give up on their resolutions after one week?
I suck at New Years Resolutions and giving things up. Because I instantly rebel when I can’t have something. But this year I want to reign in toxic habits overindulging on sweets. And instead of giving up, I’m using a method that actually works.
What’s your poison?
Do you want to eat better or exercise more, but do you feel like you lack the motivation and willpower?
It's not as hard as you imagine.I definitely don't have ironclad willpower, but I know a few tricks that make all the difference.
Avoid The Huge Mistakes That Derail Most People
Most people fail because they lack specific and clear steps.
For example, you want to give up sugar. But you’re so used to eating cookies and chocolate that you feel overwhelmed at the thought.
Would you plan to run a marathon without thinking about why?
And imagine approaching race day without running five or ten miles first? Seems crazy, right?
Instead, you create a training plan for your marathon. You break it down into easy, specific steps.
You make a plan. And you stick to it.
Let's get started.
Pick a clear and specific goal
Changes like exercise more, and cut out sugar aren't specific. Pick specific goals rather than broad and fuzzy resolutions.
Narrow your focus to a clear and specific action.
- stop binging on sweets in the evening
- eating sugary junk food after lunch
- exercise for thirty minutes three times per week
This year I’m replacing junky snacks (yes, I know!) like chips and chocolate with fruit and nuts. Snacking is my downfall if I don’t plan for healthier options. My meals are pretty healthy, but snacks? Yikes.
Think about your biggest wish and write it down. Remember, keep it simple and specific.
Hone in on the why
Connect your goal to your deeper values, and you'll link your actions to your long term desires.
For example, you want to lose weight or exercise. Identify the why.
Why do you want to give up sugar? Do you want to look good in a bikini? That's a valid reason, but is it connected do your deeper values? What about avoiding chronic diseases? Living longer?
Or seeing an example that your children can look up to.
I want to cut down on sugar and eat more fruit and nuts because they're proven to help us to live longer. And I want the maximum amount of time on earth with my loved ones.
Review your goal from Step 1, take five minutes to breathe deeply and meditate on your goal. Then jot down the why. Feel free to revise your goal to align it with your deeper values.
Make your goal foolproof
This step sets you up to succeed. Based on your goal, what can you do to make the action very easy. Basically, you have an awesome replacement for things you'll forego.
If you’re adding something to your routine, make the steps easy. Set everything up so that you’re ready to start your new habit without thinking or questioning.
If your goal is healthier eating, make sure you have replacement for your vices. Find a palatable replacement for sugar like grapes, blueberries, walnuts, apple, and mandarins. Set a weekly time in your calendar to buy snacks for the week.
Do you want to exercise/meditate/yoga in the morning?
Do something you like just beforehand like make a cup of coffee, or read a passage from an inspiring book. This helps your mind to associate your new goal with an activity you love.
- Sleep earlier and set out your clothes.
- Create a cozy meditation space that is waiting for you.
Want to eat a healthy breakfast?
- Choose a recipe and prep the night before. It can be as simple as with an apple or quick overnight oats (link to recipe).
These steps boost your chances of success because they make the action foolproof.
Morph your goal into a habit
This step ensures consistency. And sticking with one small change over time creates big results. To do this, you’ll need to make the change a habit.
Your goal becomes a part of your routine, so it’s on autopilot rather than a resolution.
Some helpful tips
- Write down your goal and post it in prominent places.
- Don't question whether you want to or not, just do it.
- Make sure you have your healthy snacks, yoga gear, running shoes visible.
- Tell your friends and family about your goal. Note: you're not asking for permission, but you're letting people know. They may choose to join you.
Reflect, readjust and return
What if you skip the gym or have a bunch of wine and sweets at a party? This happens to everyone.
What differentiates the successful from the failures is how they react to bleeps. Successful people figure out why they messed up, make adjustments, and keep going.
Consistency over time multiplies the effects of your change.
Here’s where writing down your goal helps you to stay on track.
We all have times where we mess up.
Resist self-judgements. Instead, take a moment to understand why you veered off course.
Make any adjustments to prevent future mess ups and keep going.
Track your progress
Daily, weekly, monthly and yearly track your progress. This will keep you consistent and on track.
Isn’t it cool to see that you’re making progress towards your goal?
Use a paper journal or an online tracker.
I'm enjoying using this Healthy Dozen tracker from Dr. Michael Gregor, to track that I'm eating enough health foods. Each day it's a reminder of the foods I should be eating. I track at the end of the day, and review how I”m doing. Naturally this helps me to replace junk with delicious (and healthy) options.
So get nerdy. Find an online or paper tracker that you love and use it.
Change is simpler than you think
I’ve tried before and failed.
I don’t have the willpower to stick to changes.
You don’t need willpower, but you must take action.
Get specific about your goals. Banish vague.
Meditate on why you need to exercise and eat better.
If you follow all of these steps, you'll succeed.
Now, tell me your goals. I've told you mine.
Write it in the comments.