As milestones such as new years or birthdays come around we get inspired to accomplish something. We get a chance to wipe the slate clean and start from scratch. What ever happened in the past is history and doesn’t count. However, resolutions to change only work as long as you can stick with them; and for that you need a plan. With New Year’s around the corner I decided to share our Resolution Plan with you guys. So here it is.
This year the entire crew resolved to go vegan. Let me tell you, that is one hard resolution to accomplish. But hey, we did it! It is also not a temporary resolution but a lifestyle change that we have to keep in mind for the rest of our lives. It sounds tedious but it really isn’t. You just have to see your goal as a series of choices and you have to try to make as many of the best choices to get where you want to be. So we don’t look at it as, “I’m never eating animal derived products ever again”. Instead we look at it as a right-this-second-decision; more like, “Right now, I’m eating lentil tacos and they are freaking delicious!” Whatever happens later I will deal with as it comes up.
STEP 1. PICK A RESOLUTION
You would think this step is obvious and the easiest, but you might be surprised. When picking a resolution you should pick something that is realistic. If you try to do too much at once, you might not get anything done. Let’s pick an example. Let’s say you want to exercise more this year because you are currently only working out on the weekend, if at all. That’s a great resolution. If you add anything else to that you might be pushing it. So if you want to quit smoking, or lose weight pick only one for now.
STEP 2. PENCIL IT IN YOUR SCHEDULE
How much more do you want to work out? Take a look at your resolution and make sure it is consistently obtainable. Continuing with our example of working out more, let’s strive to workout 3 additional times a week. Now that you have a concrete number, look at your schedule and find the time slots for your 3 additional workouts. Go ahead and block them out. Create an event on your phone or calendar to avoid having anything interrupt your plans.
STEP 3. START NOW
Alright! We are going to work out 3 times a week starting…next Monday! No, you are starting right now. If you can get in your first workout today, then get it out of the way. Don’t wait for next Monday, or January 1st. Waiting around gives you time to talk yourself out of it. Take the plunge, get it done now and when Monday or January 1st rolls around you will already be well on your way towards your goal.
STEP 4. STRIVE FOR PERFECTION BUT DON’T DWELL ON THE CHEAT DAYS
You have to aim high to achieve your goal. In our example scenario we have a 3 workout minimum during the week. That’s great and your mindset should always strive to get those 3 workouts done. If you start lowering the bar, by saying to yourself that 2 workouts a week would be just fine; your original goal is gone. If you aim for mediocracy then you’ll never get what you’re trying to get done.
Okay but if the end of the week rolls around and you only have 2 workouts in – don’t beat yourself up! So you didn’t meet the quota for the work week. If you can’t get that third workout in today then you must dust yourself off and start again tomorrow without delay. Making a big deal of cheats just makes it harder to get back on track. This pitfall is easier to see when you are trying to eat healthy and get derailed by a cookie. Okay, you ate a cookie no big deal. We want a perfect track record but a cookie is just a cookie – no biggie. Don’t give the cookie the power to mess up the rest of your decisions, “I ate a cookie, screw this day; and let’s eat all the cookies we can eat today. Yay! Cookie Day!” Nope, those types of cheats are the hardest to get back from. Avoid cookie days by not making your cheats a big deal. Hmmm, you ate a cookie. Great! Now let’s get back on track.
STEP 5. TRACK PROGRESS
Visualizing progress is a huge motivator. Whether you download a smart phone app that gives you nifty charts and graphs or if you simply cross off successful days on a calendar – you need to see that you are making progress. Continuing with our workout example, the phone app Run Keeper tracks your workouts, keeps time and records achieved.
STEP 6. CELEBRATE MILESTONES
Set smaller goals within your main resolution to keep you from getting overwhelmed. If your milestone is to accomplish your 3 workouts a week then a week might be a great mile stone. Be sure to also plan how you will be celebrating and never celebrate by working against your goal. For example, never reward yourself with one less workout the next week. Instead go to the beach, go shopping, or go on an extra date night. Whatever it is enjoy it!
STEP 7. MAKE AN INVESTMENT
Splurging on your resolution will give you the little oomph to get going. If you want to workout more, you can get running shoes, or a heart monitor. Some gadget that will make you look forward to accomplishing your goal. Spending a little cash will also give you a nagging feeling when you’re about to slack off. However, the investment doesn’t have to be monetary. You are investing time away from loved ones, extra time at your job, getting up early, etc. There are many kinds of investments that you can make.
STEP 8. TELL EVERYONE
You know what is more annoying than everyone reminding you about something you set off to do but quit along the way? Nothing. If you tell everyone you know that you have decided to achieve something they will ask you next time they see you. Keep your next encounter chit chat as a motivator to keep going. Avoid the awkward “Oh, yeah. I stopped doing that” conversation. Instead tell them how long it’s been since you had your last cigarette or how much your blood pressure went down since you started your steady workout routine.
STEP 9. FIND A BUDDY
The buddy system is the most effective motivator. It reduces the chances of cheating by 50%. If you have a workout buddy odds are much slighter that both of you will feel like slacking off. Push each other to get things done, rant about how hard it is, talk shop, and reminisce about how different it used to be before your resolution kicked in. Doing it in twos is much easier than doing it alone. Nonetheless, if you don’t have the buddy system it can still be done on your own or you can find online buddies that motivate you via apps and Facebook.
STEP 10. BE PROUD
Pat yourself on the back for all the hard work you have put into this resolution. It doesn’t matter if you just started this thing. You want to change something in your life for the better and that is awesome!