I'm a health coach who helps people learn to make smarter food and lifestyle choices. One of the rules I follow, and teach my clients to follow, is to set a New Year's resolution on November 1 instead of January 1. How many years has “losing weight,” or “working out more,” or “getting in shape,” been on your list of New Year’s resolutions? A lot, I bet.
Take a second to think about it; you probably already know exactly what is going to be at the top of your list of goals for 2016. So why wait until January 1? If you start TODAY, you have eight weeks in front of you to beat the clock.
Here’s a surefire way to ensure that you wake up on the first day of 2016 without having to perform the dreaded task of making the same familiar New Year’s resolutions.
1. Start now.
Make your list of resolutions today. I am a bit old-fashioned about making lists and I still like writing things on paper, but you can make a spreadsheet on your computer or phone as well. Make your list, and fold the paper into four columns, or draw four columns. In the first column, list your resolution.
2. Then take it a step further.
In the second column, next to each resolution, be specific about how you plan to accomplish this goal. Example: Next to the resolution “losing weight” you could add “lose 10 pounds, 1.25 pounds per week.” The more detail you add, the clearer your framework will be for reaching the goal.
3. Match each specific resolution to a plan of action in the third column.
This is the HOW part of the goal. How are you going to reach that goal? Set yourself up for success by creating an actionable plan that is reasonable and manageable for you and the way you live.
Here's another example:
- I will lose those 10 pounds by following a high-protein regimen with measured, limited fats and carbs.
- I'll limit wine to weekends, and choose fresh fruit for dessert instead of ice cream at night.
- I will get up 15 minutes earlier to have extra time to make a good breakfast.
- I will bring preplanned lunches to work instead of buying in the cafeteria or going out to eat.
- I will plan my dinners ahead each week so I am not frazzled in the evening when I am usually tired and prone to mindlessly grabbing a fast meal.
That's just one example, but think about how you can break down your main goal into four or five actionable steps that will hold you accountable.
4. Commit to a tracking plan.
In the fourth column, write down how or to whom you will be accountable. For example, you can track your weight loss on your bathroom scale or refrigerator, or report it to a workout buddy or food coach. Make sure to track your progress on a daily basis to stay on task.
If you slip up, get back on track that day, reminding yourself how great and accomplished you will feel to FINALLY not have to repeat resolutions for another year. For added motivation, imagine what your world will look like if you reach your goals BY the first day of 2016.
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