How I Made My New Year’s Resolution Work

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Resolutions. We’ve all made them. Every year we give ourselves a chance to start over and we make promises to improve our lives. From diet and exercise to financial responsibility, resolutions come in every size, shape and form.

At the end of 2011 I felt confident and inspired to make certain changes in my life. I was compelled to see what I could accomplish in just one year. I made resolutions for 2012 that I am proud to say I was able to keep. My biggest conquest was exercising at least once a week. It may seem like a small, simple task that wouldn’t require much effort, but I had to learn how to make this goal feasible enough for me to ultimately accomplish it.

I’m not a health expert or life coach, but I did find a way to improve myself, stay motivated and beat a challenging personal goal. Through trial and error, I found that the following tips worked for me and my particular set of goals. They can be applied to fit any of your resolutions; feel free to make modifications based on your needs.

New Year’s resolution, it’s time to meet your match!

Be specific

My main goal was one that everyone strives for – to be healthy and in better shape. I quickly learned that that is just too general of a goal and too difficult of a concept to grasp. What does it actually mean, to be healthy and in better shape? Focus in on HOW you want to accomplish the overall goal by picking something more tangible. Exercising at least once a week was a smaller, less intimidating goal; therefore, it was easier to accomplish. By focusing on weekly tasks versus an annual goal, I was able to slowly work my way to success.

Be realistic

When picking a resolution, keep in mind this is a commitment you are making for an entire year. Set a goal that you can easily work into your schedule and lifestyle. Abrupt and sudden changes may work for some, but the best way I found to keep motivated is to set smaller, realistic goals that I can make work for me. For example, I never before had a gym membership, took a class or routinely exercised. I would occasionally go for a hike, but they were few and far between. Suddenly aiming to exercise every other day would not make sense for someone like me. Instead, starting at a lower number (like once a week) made perfect sense.

Pick personal over fads

Pick a resolution that you are passionate about, something you feel like you just absolutely must accomplish. Put out that last cigarette once and for all, learn another language or finally plan that big trip. Whatever it is, let passion drive you. Without motivation, you are sure to make excuses, lose interest and ultimately fail. If you know you need to lose weight you must find a way to do it that excites you. Whether it’s a particular type of workout that really gets you going, or working towards your goal with a personal trainer, you need to stay motivated to stay passionate. Pick a goal that means something to you and not just because others say it’s important. Focus on yourself – what else can you be more passionate about, if not your own life and wellbeing?

Allow yourself wiggle room

Having a plan is extremely important, but we’re all human and we need some wiggle room. My goal to exercise once a week was not restricted to going to the gym or taking a particular class. If I didn’t have time for a one-hour workout, I would make it a point to go for a run in my neighborhood. If you don’t want to feel restricted by the goals you’ve set yourself, incorporate some fun into the resolution: take a hike with friends or join an introductory cooking class. Feel free to change things up while still working towards your goals. It keeps things fresh and fun, and most importantly, exciting.

Hiking with friends is a great alternative if you’re sick of the gym. We spent the afternoon hiking, climbing and enjoying the beautiful outdoors!

Track your progress

Encourage yourself by keeping track of each milestone you hit throughout the year. Since my goal was to exercise at least once a week, I made a note of every time I went to the gym, on a hike or to a workout class. Being a social media nerd, I used Foursquare to check-in to each place. It might seem like a small accomplishment, but seeing that I attended a class for 20, 30, even 40 weeks straight encouraged me to keep pushing further. If your goal is to stay on budget, sites like Mint.com practically do all the work for you. If you’re watching your weight, there’s the MyPlate calorie tracker by Livestrong.com.  Use them to your advantage — no matter what you want to track, I bet there’s an app for it.

Switch it up if your plan isn’t working

If you see that the routine you’ve set yourself isn’t working, don’t be afraid to change it to accomplish your goals. Not every workout, financial plan or diet will be right for you. The worst thing you can do is give up on yourself because something didn’t work. I started taking cardio barre classes and thought it was the perfect way for me to meet my goal. About six months into it, I realized I wanted to push myself more and cardio barre wasn’t keeping me motivated. I decided to spice it up and try something a little more intimidating and intense: kickboxing. I started the classes, fell in love with kickboxing, and most importantly, stayed motivated. The contrast of kickboxing to cardio barre made me appreciate what each workout did for my body. I stuck with both to really stay in shape and I found myself not only working out once a week, but taking multiple classes a week.

By following the guidelines above, I was able to successfully accomplish my goal and reach my New Year’s resolution. I’ve never been so proud of myself so often throughout a year. I plan on continuing my goals into 2013 and adding a few new resolutions.

So tell me, what are your 2013 New Year’s resolutions? Share your goals, plans and tips below and let’s toast to a bright and successful New Year!

 

Photo credit: Crystal Tong

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