A New Year a New You?

5 Steps to achieving your New Years Resolutions

OK, we all do it. That calendar turns over and it’s like we’ve heard the starting gun go off to a new race. We’re hell bent on undoing the sins of the past year or years, and we’re going to do it as fast as we can! We’re not even prepared to make this race to good fitness, health, and let’s face it, the primary goal of less weight, a marathon. No, we’re sprinting it in. Walking, or running every day, cutting out deserts cold turkey, enforcing upon ourselves salad-only lunches, and god damn it, no Big Mac for dinner, EVER!

But can you learn a language in a day? Did you learn to ride a bike first go? Or are you the maestro who sat down to that piano at your friends party and could play like you’d been playing for years despite never having a lesson? It took Bill Murray in Groundhog Day hundreds of days of repetition just to get his pick-up lines right, and even then he couldn’t get Andy McDowel into bed. So why do we all think we can draw a line in the sand and say from today we’re going to eat healthy and exercise?

Implementing change is not an overnight event. It’s a long process of steps forward, and slips, and steps back. It is always being focussed on the short term improvements no matter the slips and falls as you head towards the long term goal. Recent surveys suggest that many people put off their New Years Resolutions until February, as in January, with all the social activities going on, it’s just too hard to implement. Of course it is! If you attempt an all or nothing kind of approach, of course you’re going to fail, January or February! But, if you take Bill Murray’s example, and work at one change at a time, you cannot only begin right now, but start achieving results right now! Here’s how:

  1. Determine your key goal for the year. Make it a LONG TERM goal. Eg. by August I will be ten kilos lighter, and/or by December I’ll be eating healthy five days a week, and/or by July I’ll be running five kilometres three times a week. Then file it away. No big deal, right. It’s months away. You’ve got plenty of time to achieve it. There’s all of a sudden a ton less pressure! Cool, now let’s get to it.
  2. Think about your long term goal and what you will have to do to achieve it. Think through the little changes that will help you achieve that long term goal. Eg. change my lunch to salads, stop eating fatty frozen meals, stop eating takeaway/take out, walk every day, run three times a week. Once you’ve figured out the steps YOU WOULD LIKE TO TAKE (don’t choose ones you think you need to choose – choose the ones you think you can do and will enjoy doing), choose JUST ONE of those steps and file the rest away for later.
  3. Chosen your first step? Mine’s learning how to skip. Yours might be walking regularly or running three times a week. Maybe it’s the healthy eating. Now figure out the small steps for that one crucial step. Skipping for my example. I can’t do it. So I don’t plan on suddenly being able to do it tomorrow. I determine that I’d like to try and skip ten skips tomorrow. And probably not even continuous! If you’re going to start running, choose a day of the week and time. Then do it! Run within your limits. And only do it that one time for that first week. Diet? Just change breakfast to healthy. Nothing else. Keep everything else the same except for this one change. Only choose ONE, not diet and exercise  JUST ONE! OK? Now make sure this change is sustained. In Week 2 repeat what you did in Week 1. Can you do it? Pretty easy isn’t it!?! You’re now on your way. You’re keeping to your New Years Resolutions. Success breeds success.
  4. Once you’ve consolidated your change, once you’ve done this small change for a couple of weeks, fitting it in comfortably to your existing life and routine, in amongst all the variables, parties, and social events, you’re ready to up the anty. In Week 3 or 4 or 5 (when you’re ready), add another day of running. Or, if you’re concentrating on the diet, add a healthy lunch to your healthy breakfast routine. Build on your one selected change, and then consolidate. DON”T SKIP AHEAD! Only small steps. Consolidate, then increase.
  5. Woops – I have a family barbecue and it falls smack bang on the day I’m meant to run five kilometres, or only have a salad dinner. I don’t have the time/willpower! Don’t sweat it. You’re allowed to skip. Why? Because you now have a routine in place.  So you’ve slipped? It’s fine, you’re routine will pick up the slack next scheduled run/meal. Because you now have scheduled runs/planned meals! What? Really? Have I begun to change? Yes!

Once one step has been taken, others will follow. Momentum will gather. You’ll start to see rewards. But the goal, that LONG TERM goal, what was it again? You’ve started to forget. Why? Because it’s now less important. The small changes you’ve made are now all that matters. You’re living the resolution… and it’s not even February, when most others have decided it’s too hard even to start…

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