The Christmas holiday is over, and the New Year is finally upon us. Most people spend this time reflecting on the previous year and making plans for the year to come. We all have things we want to change, and the New Year seems the perfect time to do so. Even ancient civilisations thought so. The ancient Babylonians made promises to their gods that they would return borrowed items and pay off debt in the New Year.
While we usually aren’t making promises to our gods with our resolutions, we are making promises to ourselves. Because of that, our modern use of New Year’s resolutions can be a powerful tool in achieving things we feel are missing in our lives.
“The new year is a great time to push the reset button on our wellness routines, or to tackle an important health goal,” says life coach Sally Anne Giedrys. “But no matter what time of year you set a goal and commit to it, one of the most important factors for success is spending some time upfront understanding why you want to make this particular change and what truly motivates you.”
Bad planning could be part of the reason so many people fail at achieving their resolutions. In a study conducted by Richard Wiseman in 2007 on the success of resolutions, 88% of those who set resolutions failed.
In spite of the statistics, failure does not have to be in your future, at least when resolutions are concerned. Studies have shown Twitter can actually help you stay on track with your resolutions because you’re held accountable to a large audience, and it’s easier to find and maintain a support group.
According to Twitter, the top tweeted resolutions in January 2015 were:
- Work out/go to the gym.
- Be happy.
- Lose weight.
- Stop smoking.
- Be the best at…
- Stop drinking.
- Love myself.
- Work harder.
- Don’t fuck it up.
Twitter can be a huge help in finding like-minded people who are also working towards the same resolutions. But embracing the power of Twitter isn’t the only thing that will help you be successful with your resolutions. These 12 expert tips will also help you stay on track.
1. Ask the right questions
“First, you must decide what you want in your life; get clarity (80% of being successful is being clear about what you want) on your ideal life,” explains Mary Jo Rapini, a speaker, author, and psychotherapist. “See it and create a mental picture of who you would be. There are several questions you need to ask yourself before making a resolution, including what do you want to change in your life and why?”
Sally Anne Giedrys says it’s all about the questions you ask yourself. “I encourage my clients to ask these questions: What is it about this change that you are truly passionate about having or being in your life? How does this goal fit into your core values‹ which ones does it reflect most? What types of things naturally motivate you (and what doesn’t)?”
“It¹s far easier to be motivated and in action when we¹re centered in the why of what we¹re doing and how it fits into the bigger picture of our lives,” Sally explains. “And answering these questions upfront ensures that we create the right goal for ourselves and an action plan that is tied into what really matters to us.”
2. Don’t recycle resolutions
It’s tempting to recycle last year’s resolutions that weren’t very successful, but that’s probably not a good idea. You probably weren’t successful for a reason.
Barb Schmidt, meditation guru and the author of The Practice, suggests changing up your resolutions. “Avoid falling back on resolutions you have made in prior years. If there is something you want to accomplish in the new year but have not followed through on in years past, maybe that particular change is not a priority for you or it is not resonating with you. Choose another path toward your goal.”
3. Pick something you enjoy
Your resolutions don’t have to be torturous. Health and weight-loss coach Jena la Flamme suggests picking something you enjoy.
“Choose an activity that speaks to you, that ignites your curiosity, and that may even require courage. Sometimes this means getting out of your comfort zone and trying new things (including yoga, belly dancing, and salsa dancing!).”
Jena is the author of the forthcoming book, Pleasurable Weight Loss: The Secrets to Feeling Great, Losing Weight, and Loving Your Life Today.
“Enjoy pleasurable movement,” says Jena. “You may think you can lose weight by exercising even if you don’t enjoy it. But any exercise that your body experiences as punishing actually has the opposite effect: it stimulates a stress response that causes you to gain weight, not lose it! Punishing movement is done to the body, while pleasurable movement is done with the body.”
4. Implement a Structure
“You can’t just say I want to eat healthier you have to have a plan,” mentions nutrition and wellness expert Maria Marlowe. “What are you going to eat for breakfast lunch and dinner? What are you going to buy at the grocery store? What will you cook? What are you going to order when you go out? How do you get rid of sugar cravings? How do you make healthy food taste good? The structure part is knowing exactly what you should be doing.”
5. Measure Your Progress
“Try paying attention to the changes you see as a result of your exercise. Notice how your clothing feels differently, and notice how much more positive you have become around your friends and loved ones. Don’t take your exercise for granted! It’s truly helping you, and realizing this will help your brain give it more significance as well.”
6. Be your own cheerleader
“Be ready with a strategy for how you will cheerlead yourself through when you start to fall off the routine,” says clinical psychologist Dr. Erin Olivo. Dr. Olivo is an Assistant Professor of Medical Psychology at Columbia University, and the author of Wise Mind Living: Master Your Emotions, Transform Your Life.
“There is a difference between a lapse and a relapse. See your challenges as lapses and you are more likely to get back with the program instead of giving it up. Think in advance about what the obstacles will be to following the plan and problem solve,” Dr. Olivo continues. “If you know that you will never ever be able to stick with a routine to exercise before work, plan a time that will work for you and is sustainable over time.”
7. Consider setting intentions
If resolutions aren’t your thing, consider setting intentions.
“Resolutions are usually built around disappointment with ourselves (“I’m fat”) or are a punishment (“I love to smoke, but it is bad for me so I have to stop”),” explains Melissa Heisler, stress reduction expert and founder of It’s My Life. “We tackle our resolutions with a vengeance. We beat ourselves into submission. We guilt ourselves into making changes. We berate our current state and then set lofty unreachable ideals. And, usually in a few days, weeks, or if we are a rare bird, months, we drop our resolutions. We are using the stick instead of the carrot.”
“Intentions are what you want to gift yourself. So instead of a resolution to ‘lose weight,’ create an intention is to ‘be healthy,’” Melissa continues. “It is much more positive and it allows a range of ways to achieve the state of being healthy. Ensure that your intentions are written in joy not personal attack. Joy empowers you to make the changes you want. Joy is a motivator. Joy creates courage and conviction.”
To make your intentions more successful, Melissa suggests writing them down. “There is a power in writing down and making our intentions known. Then write them again every morning to keep you focused on the life you desire.”
A perfect place to write down your intentions is in Danielle LaPorte’s newly revamped Desire Map Day Planner. It’s worth noting the Desire Map Day Planner is not (despite the name) a day planner. It’s a life planner. It’s a spiritual and physical road map to your best self. It’s a self-written guidebook to wellness, and deeply abundant happiness. It’s a handwritten self-portrait of who you are and who you want to be. It is the perfect place for your New Year’s Intentions.
8. Don’t expect miracles
“When it comes to New Years Resolutions is about changing perspective,” says Bailey Frumen, Psychotherapist and Lifestyle Design Coach. “Typically we make sweeping declarations at the start of the year, expecting ourselves to change our ways during the month of January in a complete 180. Whether it’s goals for health, wealth, or your love life, that’s not going to work.”
“It’s about shifting your perspective to use the new year as a catalyst for a lifestyle shift. Using January as a fresh start to begin imagining how you would like your life to look then creating a roadmap of small steps that will help you to create BIG action. More like a New Year Revolution.”
9. Pick something you’ll be proud of
While expecting miracles isn’t realistic, talk show radio host Drew Taddia suggests picking something substantial for your resolution.
“If you want to achieve a set and achieve a New Years Resolutions this year, find something substantial and something to be proud of,” Drew recommends. “Set a goal you think there’s a small possibility of achieving (if any), set a goal so outrageous no one believes you’ll achieve it. That’s where the real magic comes in, that’s where that internal drive awakes us within and carries us far past any expectation we set for ourselves.”
10. Reward yourself
“Everyone needs rewards,” Angela Reed-Fox, director of Fox Cycling tells me. “If you’re making changes you should reward yourself – just be careful how you do it. Never reward yourself with something that could be damaging. That includes, for example, your goal is to lose weight, so you reward a weigh-in with a piece cake (lethal!) or you stick to your diet for a whole day so you celebrate with a cigarette! (You’re just swapping one habit for another).”
11. Change in moderation
“Often, people want to lose too much weight than is appropriate. It takes time and patience to drop the pounds so if that is your goal, give yourself the room and the time for gradual change. Also recognize that muscle weighs more than fat, so if you’re adding to your workout, it may take some time to see change and that’s okay! Make sure you’re being safe first and foremost.”
Dr. Metzle is currently a visiting specialist at Miraval Arizona Resort & Spa where he is offering several events about health and wellness.
“I always tell my patients to set a goal that scares them, but that doesn’t mean that they shouldn’t make a gradual build,” Dr. Metzl continues. “If you’ve never run before, set a goal that is a 5k instead of jumping right into that marathon. Each milestone is an achievement!”
12. Remember life happens
“Plan for the What-Ifs,” Dr. Fran Walfish recommends. “Know ahead of time how you will deal with falling off the wagon. For instance, if you cheat on your diet plan how to get back on as quickly as possible. Most people feel one failure as a total loss, and they give up.” Dr. Fran Walfish is a psychotherapist, author, and expert panelist on ‘Sex Box’, a new show premiering on WE TV in the United States early 2015.
“It is perfectly okay to not make New Year’s resolutions with the caveat and understanding that you are not a loser or failure to not doing so,” Dr. Walfish continues. “The fact is that most New Year’s resolutions are not adhered to. Most people feel badly when they don’t stick to their commitments. But, here is the truth. The unconscious mind always prevails. In other words, the part of the mind that stores desires, wishes, wants, and needs that we are unaware of (without thought) always wins. That means that it doesn’t matter what you think you want, the truth of your underlying wants and needs will always happen. So, you may think you want to lose weight when, in fact, what you really want is the cozy, warm, comfort of food. Be honest with yourself. Take a painful, open look within and discover your own truth. Nurture and respect it.”