If you’re reading this article, you’ve already set at least the goal of living a healthier lifestyle. Whether joining Prime Time was your first step, your most recent step, or just one of many along your path, it certainly wasn’t your last. Making any kind of lifestyle change is a process.
As we move forward in the new year – a time when some of us might be at risk for losing a bit of our enthusiasm – it’s a good time to take a look at where we are individually. If you’re not quite where you want to be, read on…
New Year. New Resolution.
Many of us think of setting big goals at the start of a new year. For whatever reason, we like starting at the beginning of a new year – using a temporal landmark on the first of 365 days.
“I’ve lost my mojo. Now what?”
The not-so-positive statistics about New Year’s resolutions tell us that most of those who set them end up falling off the wagon.
Getting a little sidetracked from your goal is totally normal, and it doesn’t mean you’ve failed. To give you the motivation you need to keep going, we recommend taking a few steps.
- Reframe your idea of failure.
University of Washington psychologist and author G. Alan Marlatt, Ph.D., devoted his life to the study of self-initiated behavior change. Through his research, he found that one of the most effective strategies for making a lifestyle change was learning to think constructively about setbacks.
Dr. Marlatt teaches the importance of getting back up after we fail. Making a lifestyle change is a process that doesn’t happen overnight.
- Avoid certain circumstances.
After a slip-up, play detective. Look carefully at the events that led to your relapse, identify the problem, and start fresh. As you work toward your goal, you understand that avoiding certain habits or behaviors will help you find success.
- Don’t focus on the end result.
Expert Rod Hairston uses the metaphor of the brick wall to express the problem with focusing on the end result. For example, if your goal is to get into better physical shape, you know you need to exercise regularly to reach that goal. But if you’re relying on the mental image of you being fit and full of energy in order to get yourself to the gym, you’re not going to get very far.
Change takes time, and with every day that goes by that you don’t see and feel a physical change, your motivation will take a hit. It won’t take long before you run smack into that brick wall.
To avoid hitting the brick wall, shift your focus to the individual activities that are going to get you to your ultimate goal of getting fit. Focus on:
- Getting up earlier to incorporate exercise into your daily routine.
- Developing the habit of going to the gym, or taking that morning walk.
- Introducing better nutrition into each meal, or eating healthier snacks.
By dedicating time to developing new habits, you can start to eliminate the problem of the brick wall.
“I didn’t even make a resolution this year.”
If you let January 1 pass you by without making a change, no big deal! The most important thing to remember is that you didn’t miss the boat. As nutritionist Sara Richter advises, “Any day is a good day to start a goal to improve your health and lifestyle.”
An important thing to remember is that in order to set a goal, you need to have a plan. As we talked about in our December 2016 issue, try using the SMART system of goal attainment to map out a plan for your ultimate goal.
“It comes down to forming an action plan,” says Dr. John Norcross, the researcher responsible for multiple studies on the effectiveness of resolutions. “If it’s a few seconds to the new year and you’re just throwing something up in the wind, then it’s not going to work. [The effort] requires preparation.”
If you’ve put a goal on hiatus to deal with some other major life transition, you may want to rethink your strategy, according to Gretchen Rubin, author of “Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of Our Everyday Lives.” She suggests that a significant life transition can provide fertile ground for making other big changes. You’re already in a mode of breaking old patterns when you’re in transition, which actually makes it easier to introduce new patterns into your routine.