Last week, I wrote in A New Year State of Mind about why this time of year is the perfect time to start with new, fresh goals, or to re-fresh those that you didn't achieve in the past 12 months. What's that I hear? Groan, moan, whine, complain.... Oh, I do know how it feels. After a week of too much shopping, cooking, cleaning, eating and no need for a wake-up alarm in the mornings, I feel like my bottom has been welded to a sofa cushion and my brain has been stuffed with it's down. How in the world am I going to muster enough motivation to start anything new, let alone my annual assessment of my less-than-optimum weight and fitness?
In order to help clear out the cobwebs and focus on something more substantive than what is on TV tonight, I have a short-hand version of the main points of that earlier blog post. Once you get going, you may want to re-fuel every once in a while by dipping into either post as the need arises.
Why your New Year's resolutions may not have succeeded in the past:
1. Too big, too general or too negative;
2. You didn’t build in any support
3. It took too long to see any rewards for your hard work.
My Top Ten Tips for making New Year’s Resolutions for 2011 a Success:
1. Start as soon into 2011 as you can. New Year’s Day and January represent a new beginning, making it the perfect time to start fresh with a goal you have been putting off.
2. Get as specific as you possibly can. Make sure that you have some way of measuring your success, so you will know when you have achieved it. You don’t just want a new job, you want that job;
3. Make the goal positive. Instead of “I have to lose 50 pounds,” make it “As of the 31st December, 2011 I will weigh X pounds (50 less than when I began).”
4. Make the goal manageable. Let’s say you want to run the next London Marathon, but have never run a race before. You could easily become discouraged with such a huge goal. Instead, start with the goal of doing a charity fun run, then make a new goal to run a 5K race and eventually, work your way up to your ultimate goal: the Marathon.
5. Write down your goal and revisit it every day as a constant reminder, including the actions you will take to achieve it, why it’s important to you and how you will reward yourself when you get there.
6. Plan ahead. What will you need to help you achieve your goal? Use the next few weeks to line up all things you need, whether it’s time off from work, setting aside some money, buying exercise clothes, etc.
7. Gather support. Tell as many people what you are doing as is appropriate. Who wants you to succeed? Who is willing to help, whether it is just to listen, provide motivation or work alongside you?
8. Build in rewards. Incentives keep your motivation fresh. They should be tangible, planned ahead, something you award yourself and something not counter-productive to your goal. So, instead of rewarding yourself with a big chocolate bar for losing 10 pounds, try a massage or a new pair of jeans instead.
9. If you slip, pick yourself back up. Don’t waste time on self-blame. Instead of letting a slip spell total disaster, forgive yourself and move forward as quickly as possible.
10. Celebrate your success. So that it feels like a real achievement, make sure there is some celebration of your positive result. Then, next year, you will have something to draw on as motivation for your next New Year’s Resolutions.