Sunday, January 22, 2017

Don't Give Up! 3 Tips to Keeping Your New Year's Resolution

It's about this time of the year that people start bailing on their New Year's Resolutions.  In fact, according to the University of Scranton's research, only 8% of people who make a resolution actually keep it.  Before you throw out your goal, your hopes, your dreams for a new and different year, take a second to read this . . .

I started every year as one of the 92% who never keep their resolutions.  The new year would kick-off and I'd feel motivated and enthusiastic.  This was the year that I was going to make drastic changes in my life.  Eat healthier.  Lose weight.  Help others.  Get organized.  Make my bed everyday.  Never yell at my kids again.  By the end of January real life would creep in and I'd stumble and then fall flat on my face.  Forget that resolution!  I'd be mad at myself for a few days, but then life would go on and I'd forget about any desire to improve myself.

The streak ended in 2010.  That year I was one of those 8%.  I kept my New Year's Resolution and my life would never be the same.  I resolved to complete a 5k.  Coming from someone who had never run even the shortest of distances that was a pretty daring goal to set.  Amazingly, on April 10, 2010 I completed my first 5k.  Since then I have set and kept my New Year's Resolutions every year.  How does that happen?  I do three simple things.

1. I set SMART Resolutions.  
My resolutions were always vague and unrealistic.  I will be healthier this year!  What exactly does that mean?  I will not yell at my kids this year.  Really?  You don't think they're going to push you to your limits at least once in the next 12 hours let alone 12 months?  I will lose 50 pounds this year.  Is that possible?  Yes - for some people.  But I know myself.  The minute the scale shows a gain I will feel defeated and bow out.  

In 2010, my resolution was a SMART one.  I will run a 5k this year.  It's specific.  You can read that sentence and know exactly what I'm aiming to do with no explanation.  It's measurable.  I either complete 3.1 miles or I don't.  It's achievable.  3.1 miles isn't that far (Though at the time it felt like I was asking myself to run around the world!).  I could accomplish that without killing myself.  It's realistic.  Looking at my life at the time and the training needed to achieve this goal, I felt that I could handle it.  I also had several friends who ran and were great examples to me that I could do this.  It's timely.  I had one year to complete it.  Or once I picked a race - until April 10th.  

2. I Share my Resolutions with others.
Sharing your Resolutions with others allows them to cheer you on when times get tough, celebrate with you and hold you accountable.  When I keep things to myself, negative self-talk fills my mind. "You can't do this."  "You're crazy."  "You know you're going to fail."  I have a small group of trusted friends and family whom I share EVERYTHING with about my resolutions.  They've listened to me whine.  They've jumped up and down with me to celebrate victories.  They've caught me sneaking into the Break Room tip toeing towards the vending machines and called me out on it, 
Back in 2010, I told everyone - and I mean EVERYONE - about my goal of completing a 5k.  That is actually what kept me going.  There were several times during my training that I wanted to quit and one key moment when the race first started that I was ready to head to the car.  Each time I thought of how many people I had told (Why had I posted my goal on Facebook?!?) and how embarrassing it would be to have to say that I quit.  

3. I Stick to it even when I fall.
This is probably the MOST important.  No one is perfect.  Life is not always fair.  There are going to be mountains to climb and valleys to cross.  When I mess up or miss a step, the key is for me to pick myself up and keep going.  Even if that means going back and starting again.  

When I was training for that first 5k, I had a string of three weeks when I couldn't get the training in on Tuesdays.  I was ready to give up.  My mom asked me why I would quit after already putting so much time and heart into training.  The only answer I could come up with was the missing check marks on the paper.  I had messed up "the plan" and now I was off schedule.  When my mom pointed out the ridiculousness of quitting because of a few missing check marks, I knew that couldn't quit.  Who really cares that I had missed three Tuesdays?  No one!

So what if you didn't reach 10,000 steps for the past two days.  Your child was sick.  You had a big report to complete at work.  That doesn't justify quitting.

So you ate an entire pizza after a really bad day.  What happened to you really stinks and deserved a pity party, but now you start fresh and get back on track with that clean eating.

So you paid your gas bill a day late.  Hey, everything else has been paid on time and you are doing a great job.  Next month, you'll get that bill paid on time.

Whenever we stumble there is a key moment when we literally ask ourselves - am I going to quit or am I going to stick to it?  The easy answer is to say I quit and fall back into old habits.  The hard answer.  The brave answer.  The smart answer is to push on.

So here we are nearing the end of January.  Did you tell yourself this year would be different and have found that it's not?  Have you been struggling to keep your resolution and have been thinking of giving up?  Maybe you never even made one because, "Why bother?  You know you won't keep it."

It's never too late to set a goal.  January 1 is only a date on the calendar.  You can make a New Year's Resolution on January 1st, January 22nd or even May 3rd.  It's all about you and how you want to live your life.  What decisions do you want to make?  How do you feel about your life right now?  If you want to change than you can do that starting today.

If you are ready to give up, I urge you to hang in there.  Look at your resolution.  Is it SMART?  If not - you can adjust it.  Have you shared your goal with anyone?  If not, call or text someone right now and ask for support.  Do you need to dig in your heels and stick to it even if you've already fallen?  You can do it!!

It's been seven years since I first kept my New Year's Resolution.  I still make a couple every year and I still follow these three steps.  If I can do it, I know that you can, too!

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