Have I mentioned yet how much I love this time of year? The refreshing feeling of a brand new year is one of my absolute favorites. The nostalgia of reflecting over the past 365 days mixed with the anticipation of the upcoming year is a great combination. Those feelings often lead us to a place of self improvement, wanting to create a resolution to improve something during the next 365 days. Creating a New Years Resolution is one of the most common practices of the New Year, and by far one of my favorite traditions.
I’m a list person for sure – I make lists every single day, often multiple times a day. I make grocery lists, to do lists, workout lists, book lists, movie lists – you name it, I’ve probably made a list for it. (See, I just made a list right there!). One of my favorite lists to make is the kind that helps me accomplish a goal. Making a resolution of some sort is always exciting. However, breaking it down and creating an action plan is not always the most enjoyable part, but it’s usually the most important.
The start of a new year brings plenty of time for reflection, goal setting, and self improvement. I’ve been making a New Year’s Resolution for as long as I can remember. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I finally stopped to realize that I was failing at my resolutions more often than not. It took a few years of convincing myself that this upcoming year would be different before I finally realized it wouldn’t be. Nothing was going to happen that would make my resolution magically fall into my lap.
Creating a resolution always starts with the best of intentions, but having great intentions doesn’t mean you are going to succeed.
In order to succeed, you need an action plan. A game plan. For lack of a better way to describe it, a list. Setting a resolution is an excellent first step. I’ve done it for at least 15 years now and always feel excited and ambitious when I write something down! That excitement lasts me a few weeks, sometimes if I’m lucky it even lasts me until mid February, but after that the excitement always fades away.
So what happens when that excitement fades away? More often than not, the desire to achieve our resolution gets less and less, until we slowly decide that it’s not worth the effort and forget about it all together. Until New Years Eve comes around again, when we find ourselves in the exact same position: denying the fact that we didn’t accomplish our resolutions.
My favorite kind of resolution to make for myself is a fitness resolution. Whether it’s to run a certain race, build strength, increase my fitness, or maintain my health, those resolutions always leave me with the most motivation to get started. Each year I sit down with my pen and paper and really think about what I could do to improve my fitness or accomplish an important goal.
After years of failed resolutions, I finally discovered that I in fact was the problem. Not some crazy, unfortunate set of circumstances, but my own effort (or lack thereof). I had never created a game plan that allowed for conquering unpredictable obstacles, so as soon as one came my way, I gave up. These past few years have been much more successful for me, but creating a resolution has become much more of a process.
Whenever I set a fitness resolution, I always consider these few things:
- Where is my current fitness?
- How long will it realistically take to accomplish this resolution?
- Will I need to accomplish other goals prior to achieving this big one?
- How attainable is this resolution (in a brutally honest and realistic way)?
- Is this something that can only be accomplished at a certain time of year?
- What will I gain from accomplishing this resolution?
These guidelines help me to evaluate my goals and make sure that the resolution is realistic. Once I’ve decided on a resolution that I’m excited about, I write it down, outline it with colors, and put it somewhere where I am going to remember.
But I don’t stop there.
Writing down the resolution is the easy part. After I’ve written it down, I get started making an action plan (more often than not, a list;). This action plan will help me stay accountable throughout the year, and allow me to check my progress each month to evaluate whether or not I’m on track.
My resolution action plan always includes these things:
- A specific date for when I want to accomplish my resolution (at least a few weeks before the end of the year!)
- A month by month break down of what I need to accomplish in order to achieve my big goal
- I start out with easy, simple tasks that will not be a challenge (i.e., sign up for the race, run 1 mile, create a calendar, write down my current weight, etc.)
- A checklist that I can use to cross off each time I accomplish a step along the way
- Creating reminders in my phone calendar on the same day each month for the rest of the year
- For example, on the 20th of every month I have a reminder that goes off saying “New Years Resolution”
- This reminder tells me that I need to get out my New Years Resolution and game plan, and evaluate my progress… If I am not where I want to be, I adjust my game plan or set new goals accordingly
I truly believe that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to. Where people fail most often, is when they set a huge goal for themselves and never find a way to make it possible. Sit down with your big goals and break them down into smaller, more manageable goals.
You want to lose 50 pounds? Awesome! Break that down into 4.2 pounds a month, and then list out the strategies that you will use to lose those 4 pounds each month. Check back in every month to see what worked and what didn’t.
You want to run a marathon? Super! Research races, sign up for one, put the date in your calendar, and start a training plan 4 months in advance. Start out by running 4 miles, increase by one each week, and before you know it, 26 will feel attainable.
Whatever your fitness goals are, you have the power to accomplish them! Let’s make 2018 the best one yet. Cheers!