The sad fact about resolutions is they’re most notorious for being broken. Eating more greens, committing to a gym membership, spending more quality time with the family — it’s all easier in theory than practice. When it comes to conquering even the loftiest of goals, the key to success is making small, specific steps that you can have fun with.
Here are four tried-and-true tips for setting up yourself up for success this year:
Statements like “I’ll eat healthier” and “I’ll work out more” lack tangible, realistic and measurable steps to propel you toward success that lasts past January. Taking time to break those big resolutions into specific, mini goals and then planning exactly when and how you will achieve them is critical for success.
Jotting down a deadline of when you’ll accomplish your goal will also increase the chances of getting it done. Treat it like a doctor’s appointment. Get a fun new planner to help keep you enticed. If you want to work out more, sign up for three classes at the beginning of the week (or pick out three workouts online if you don’t have access to classes), lay your clothes out the night before to beat the morning excuses and call a buddy to go with you — just make it happen.
If you’re hoping to eat better, find three fun, yet simple, recipes you can make each week. Boring dishes like steamed broccoli and chicken probably won’t be sustainable in the long run. Plan to make Banana Bread Granola Bars on Sunday for weekday snacks. Write in your calendar when you’ll hard-boil eggs, make your freezer smoothie packs and get the Overnight Coffee Oats prepped. Healthy eating can easily become a fun habit with some planning.
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Research shows that using daily activities to prompt new behavior makes habits stick. Say you want to be more active but you can’t fit trips to the gym into your schedule. Instead of abandoning that idea altogether, choose a simple activity like walking outside and attach it to something in your current routine, like breakfast. Every day when you finish breakfast, go for a 15-minute walk around the block. Over time, this activity takes less and less conscious effort (and willpower) until it’s automatic. Before you know it, you’ve tacked on nearly two hours of movement to your week. How awesome is that?
Weight management is a common resolution that leaves us feeling like we’re missing out. While forming positive health habits and eating intuitively is no small feat, it’s possible for it to become an enjoyable habit. Life’s too short to swear off brownies forever! Instead of focusing on eliminating all the things you enjoy, try boosting your diet with more tasty, nutrient-dense foods. For example, add a half cup of pulses (beans, chickpeas, peas and lentils) a day to salads, stir-fries, soups or pasta. Say hello to more fiber, plant-powered protein and iron. If breakfast smoothies are your jam, add a handful of spinach, frozen cauliflower or dates for an instant nutrient boost.
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There’s power in numbers, especially when it comes to kicking bad habits to the curb and making room for all the good. Studies show that having accountability to a trusted friend significantly increases the likelihood of achieving goals. In a study, those who wrote down their goals, said them aloud and sent weekly accountability updates were almost twice as likely to achieve their goals than those who just thought about them.
So set yourself up for success by finding a friend or partner to report back to. Send them a summary of all your successes and failures and let them cheer you to the finish line.