When I went to college at the University of Florida, it was super trendy to go jogging. It seemed to be the standard hobby of everyone I knew, except for myself. At the time, I didn’t exercise, with the exception of walking to class. But because I constantly saw runners around me, the wheels in my head began to turn, and I realized that I really was not in shape. I desired to be healthy, and I wanted to participate in the campus culture. So for my 2002 New Year’s resolution, I decided to start running.
I made the resolution, but I really doubted that I could keep it. I had never before been able to keep a New Year’s resolution. But somehow I defied all odds, and I became a runner. Nearly nine years later, I still go for runs several times a week. I feel so much healthier, and I am in much better shape. And to top it all off, I have a hobby that I love.
How was I able to stick to my New Year’s Resolution? Here are 8 things I did to keep my resolution, and you can try them, too:
1. Focus On One Resolution
Prior to my 2002 jogging resolution, I had always made resolutions in attempts to makeover my life.
But, if you try to change everything all at once, you end up changing nothing. You spread yourself and your focus too thin. Think of the one thing that is the most important for you to change in your life, and make that your one resolution.
2. Plan Ahead, Not On New Year’s Eve
I am not sure why this happens, but it seems that people often make New Year’s resolutions on a whim. Perhaps all the excitement of New Year’s Eve events gets people overly hopeful for the coming year. However, when they wake up the next morning, they either forget that they made a resolution or they blow it off. If you really want to change something for the upcoming year, plan early. Also, come up with a game plan on how you are going to go about accomplishing your resolution. For example, if you are going to try to lose weight, you need to decide on a diet and a workout routine. Perhaps you want to sneak workouts into your day or plan another way to exercise and be healthy while saving money.
3. Commit To 21 Days
I’ve heard that it takes 21 days to form a habit. If that’s the case, focus on just making it through January 21st. If you were able to form a habit, great! If you decide that you really dislike your resolution, at least you gave it a fair chance.
4. Baby Steps
Let’s say that you decide that your New Year’s Resolution is to become a runner, but you have never run before in your life. It probably is not wise to sign up for a half marathon for the first weekend in January. You probably just want to work on running for 1 minute and then adding an additional minute each week. That is what I did in 2002, and I was able to work all the way up to running half marathons.
By taking baby steps, you can gain motivation from the progress you have made to continue to push yourself into becoming a better version of yourself.
5. Create A Rewards System
You need to reward yourself when you make progress. A good reward may be to take a day off. If you’re trying to eat healthier, perhaps you could eat whatever you want, just one day a week. Remember, only take a reward day if you stick to your rules the other 6 days of the week.
6. Penalty Motivation
Conversely, you can have a consequence when you do not stick to your resolution. I love the “Swear Jar” idea because it’s a great way to save money. For every time that you are unable to keep your resolution, you put a dollar in the “Swear Jar.” Just make sure that the money from the “Swear Jar” goes to save for your future.
7. Don’t Get Burned Out
When you make a New Year’s resolution, you are trying to change something about your life, but your New Year’s resolution does not need to become your whole life. If your resolution is to start a budget, definitely make a budget and stick to it, but don’t obsess over every little detail. Continue on with your life as it was before, but only with this one addition. This is also an important one for those who want to lose weight safely. If you exercise and diet all the time, you will get burned out.
8. Remember Why You Made Your Resolution
No one makes resolutions just for the fun of it. You make a resolution because there is something in your life that either needs to change or you want to change. If you focus on that reason, you are more likely to stick with your resolution. Use sticky notes. Put it on your calendar. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Do whatever you need to do to remember to become a better version of yourself. This will help you avoid procrastination, as well.
For 2012, my resolution is to floss daily. I am one of those people who only floss before going to the dentist. I want to be a good example for my son, and I might as well do something that is good for me in the process.
What is your New Year’s resolution for 2012, and how do you plan to keep it?
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