Oh God, it’s December again. I know that it rolls around every year, but seriously, it sneaks up and surprises me every time.
It’s a whirlwind of holiday parties and traveling and seeing friends and more parties and oh yeah, throw in a few family get-togethers and then a nice huge New Year’s Eve shindig that pulls out all the stops. I don’t know about you, but between all the rush of activity, it just seems like one long extended party.
Eating goes up and inhibitions go down. I mean, let’s be real; no one wants to be “that girl” who skimps out on a party. It’s hard to say no to your friend egging you on for one more drink or treat because hey, it’s the holidays! LET’S PARTY!!
Your thoughts start to turn and you tell yourself that you can cheat just this once...
Well, maybe another two or three. And before you know it, you’re in full swing - caution be damned, I deserve to enjoy myself. And holiday treats come once a year. I’ll be good in January, I swear!
So then our New Year’s resolution looms over us, like a stern nun who observes all with an air of arrogant wisdom, letting us know with one glance that we’re REALLY going to regret those three cookies we just couldn’t turn down.
Once that magical January 1 date rolls around we KNOW we are going to be good now. We’re going to buckle down and get our priorities straight after six weeks of carefree indulgence. We wake up from the hangover and resolve that we will put our health first again.
I really like the sentiment behind this goal, but I actually hate it when people tell me they are going to “get healthy” this year.
Why? Because 93% of the people who say this have very little idea of what they actually want to do.
Tons of people resolve to “lose weight and get healthy” in January. Cruise by a gym parking lot right now and it will be a ghost town. In three weeks, you’ll have to park a half mile away from the entrance (silver lining: now you don’t have to warm up)! By February - March at the very latest - those new, enthusiastic fitness fiends will be gone. They’ll be back next year and will promise that this year will be different, but the same result will occur.
Now, I’m not dissing those people at all. I think they should be commended for trying and I truly hope they succeed.
But if I’m going to honest, they probably won’t.
It’s not the fact that they’re not committed or that they don’t try. Obviously they wouldn’t even start to go to the gym or attempt this resolution if they weren’t serious. But in nearly all cases, they haven’t thought through two crucial steps that would drastically reduce the urge to drop out when things get tough: making a crystal-clear goal and writing it down. By taking 30 minutes and implementing these two simple steps their success would be increased.
Let’s first look at how people typically decide on their New Year Resolution:
1. LET’S GET FIT AND HEALTHY THIS YEAR!!
3. Six pack / booty for days / having to beat the boys back with a stick
I’m being a bit facetious, but think about it. Most of the people who want to “get fit and healthy” have admirable goals. The problem is that when push comes to shove, they have no clue how to execute an effective plan.
And honestly, how could they? “Get fit and healthy” is just about as nebulous an idea as they come. Does that mean lose weight? How much? How long do they want to diet? Do they want to exercise? What types of exercise will they do? What does their training look like? Does it realistically fit with their life? What happens when plan A falls through (they get sick, they get promoted, they move in with their boyfriend)?
See how, though made with the best intentions, that goal is destined to fail? Without any specificity, how will she know when she achieves her goal?
What I’m suggesting instead is two simple steps to drastically help make New Year’s Resolutions stick.
1. Get as specific as possible with your goal.
2. Write it down and stick it somewhere you’ll see it.
I can see you rolling your eyes from here.
“But that’s so easy! That’s dumb, anyone can do that.”
Yeah, precisely. Everyone is capable of doing this. Take a half hour (NO EXCUSES – if it’s important , you’ll make the time) and really define what your goal is. And write it down in as much detail as you put into your thoughts.
I want you to write down the exact what, how, why, when, location, duration, and frequency of your goals at the bare minimum. Think of as many questions you can about what you want to achieve and answer every. Single. One.
For example, say we have a darling mademoiselle who wants to “get healthy” this year.
But what does that mean to her? Well, she decides that to her, she’d like to focus on weight loss. Awesome. The narrowing continues!
She’d like to drop 8 pounds, because between Halloween and Christmas, she didn’t really pay too much attention. Parties, drinks after work, friends, business trips, dates (pesky boys!) and well, life, just got in the way sometimes. She put on a few pounds here and there over the past few months, and now her jeans are a little too snug for comfort. She really doesn’t want to have to buy the next size up so she’ll get back to her pre-fall weight. Perfect!
What does she want to do to lose the weight? Well, our mademoiselle already works out. She decides that instead of hitting the gym twice a week, she will go four times a week.
She double checked her work schedule and though she’d like to go more, four realistically fits into her life. Her workout drug of choice is Zumba so she will go to the classes on Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, and Sunday because she can make each of those days work.
She decides that for right now, she’d like to focus on increasing the workouts instead of changing her eating habits because there’s just too much going on. She’ll be a little more cognizant of her food choices and make sure that she doesn’t go crazy with eating more now that she’s increased her workout load. She knows that she can always go back and clean up her food choices, but that’s not her priority right now.
Her boyfriend’s birthday is in the beginning of March and they’ve been talking about going on a vacation somewhere. She’d like to have all the weight lost by then so that she can enjoy herself and not have to think about anything while she’s away. So she has about 8 weeks to lose 8 pounds, which is totally doable.
Our mademoiselle has successfully narrowed down her goal to an actionable state – hooray! Her list looks like this:
1. Get healthy by losing weight.
2. I want to lose 8 pounds.
3. I want to lose this weight by March 1.
4. I want to lose this by going to Zumba classes 4 days a week (Monday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday).
5. I will continue my same eating habits but know that I can always change them to meet my goals above.
This is looking pretty good. There’s a goal, a concrete number, an end date, and a plan of action to take more classes.
By writing these down, she’s thought through them enough to envision how this plan will fit with her life. She’s not haphazardly throwing anything and everything at it. If she has trouble, now she has a list that she can go back to and review to see if there’s anything she wants to tweak.
It seems so obvious, but almost no one does this. However, this is a way to bulletproof your goals; when you see the gym-goers slowly start to thin out, you can look back at your list and keep yourself motivated because you know that you have lost 3 pounds, so you have 5 to go before you hit your goal.
That’s much easier than knowing you’ve lost 3 pounds but you don’t know how much you want to lose, so 3 is good enough, right?
So before you go out and make your New Year’s Resolution, really take some time and whittle away at your goal until you have something that you can actually work with. Write it down and stick it where you can see it to remind yourself of the commitment you’ve made. Then relentlessly move toward it until you win.
You’re gonna own it this year.