Make Your Resolutions Stick – 3 Tips for Success
As each New Year approaches, many of us set resolutions for weight loss and fitness. We reflect on the gap between where we’d like to be with our fitness goals, and where we actually are. For some, this aspiring gap is the size of the Grand Canyon. For others, their ideal life is only a few small neglected adjustments away.
Regardless of how lofty your fitness goal is, you can have enormous hope because with the dawn of the New Year comes a tremendous sense of inspiring opportunity for change. No matter how big one’s resolution is, most take the leap on the notion that next year is a fresh mystery, a totally new era and if so willed, a totally new you.
So why is it that these incredible change-driven aspirations rarely last into February? Forty five percent of all Americans make a New Year’s resolution, the most common being to lose weight. About 8% of all these people actually achieve their goal. And among those who do reach their goal, many revert to their old habits and thus, their old weight.
Here are some guiding principles and tips to harness your inspiration and dramatically increase your odds of success…
1. Almost all New Year’s resolutions fail because people simply forget the reasons that inspired them to want to change in the first place.
Behavioral change psychology says that all change (big and small) is driven by personal values. Those who get to the core of their values and aspirations to change will find the will and the way to make it happen. If this sounds foreign or uncomfortable, don’t worry, because there are indeed shortcuts on this path to successful change and achieving your goals.
First, don’t start planning how you’ll complete your goal until it’s clear to you why you want to. Resolutions that require a great deal of planning or large up-front commitments will likely fail in coming weeks when there are no identified values to drive them. If weight loss is the goal, ask yourself some key questions:
Why is losing weight important for you? Then, follow this up with other questions: Imagine that at the end of this coming year, you’ve achieved your goal. What would be different for you? What would be the biggest benefits to you and why are those benefits important to you?
These are simple questions, but they hold the keys to unlocking success. Write down the answers to these questions and post them in commonly seen areas to keep your motivation strong.
2. No one can tell you your own deep reasons to change…you have to discover them for yourself. (Try using the 5 Whys technique)
Using our example of the weight loss goal, ask yourself why weight loss is important to you (Why #1). The answer may be to look better or to be healthier. Next, ask yourself once again, why is looking better or being healthier important (Why #2), and continue asking why. By your final posed ‘why’ question, you may discover the deeper reason why this goal is important to you.
Perhaps your will to lose weight actually comes from a desire to live as long as you can since someone close to you had previously died due to preventable causes. Or, you may come to realize that you have been giving so much of yourself for others, that your usual efforts of self-care have actually been voided causing inevitable weight gain (common examples).
No one can tell you your own deep reasons to change, you have to discover them. Moreover, they will be very specific to you, your life experiences, your needs and your desires. Ask yourself whom you think would be more successful: Someone trying to lose weight to simply be healthier? Or, someone trying to lose weight because they realized that their unhealthy behaviors have internalized into emotional pain that has been crushing their feelings of self-worth. The latter person will realize that losing weight isn’t just about improving health, but that it is absolutely vital for their relationships and overall happiness. Once again, change is driven by personal values.
3. Increase Chances of Success through Motivational Interviewing
One of the most sweeping behavior counseling techniques in health care today is a well-researched approach called Motivational Interviewing. In this person-centered strategy, large amounts of evidence show that people are most successful with their desired change when they have one or more of the following:
- A personal awareness of reasons behind their self-focused change
- Expressed commitment, steps or plans of action to take toward their goal.
- An expressed desire and/or ability to take action on their goal.
Though the New Year resolutions start by looking back on your previous days, the real solution might be to actively spend more time reflecting in the future. Sometimes the first resolution that comes to mind is not the best and it may take a while to realize what you’re truly seeking. When counting down this year, try to deeply dwell on these goals that come to mind. Contemplate your aspirations and find the values that will carry you into resolution success.About the Author: Coach T. is an ACE Certified Health Coach and an NSCA Certified Personal Trainer. Follow Coach T. and TD Fitness on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest.