By Yasmin Yang
Setting and Keeping New Year’s Resolutions
“What is your new year’s resolution?” is one of the most-asked questions in early January. From personal to professional, the turn of a new year brings with it the desire to do better. But as we all know, too many times goals are set and then broken. We see this in the crowded gyms the first weeks of January, which go back to their normal size by February, the diets that require such strength of will that no normal human could ever expect to achieve them, and the work resolutions that are quickly forgotten in the face of everyday minutia.
How can we stop this cycle? What can we do to make 2017 the year we actually meet our resolutions? First, we need to make the right goals – they need to be specific and realistic. Second, we need to remember that January 1st is just one day – reaching your goal requires action on the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and onward.
My younger brother is an amazing guy. A serious runner – and a beer drinker, he set himself some very specific goals for 2016: Run 10 miles every day, and drink a different beer every day. And he met these goals for 347 days straight, until a snowstorm and bad traffic conspired to get him home after midnight in mid-December.
Now, I’m not suggesting this as a goal for you or I. Did I mention he’s single? And has no kids? (Let me know if you want an introduction ladies!) Still, making this goal so specific meant that each day he knew exactly what he needed to do. Run. And drink beer.
Do you see the difference between this goal and the most commonly made ones of “lose weight” and “get fit”? Neither of those tell us what we need to do exactly each and every day.
As a bonus, his goals incorporated a serious fitness one as well as something fun. Who says goals have to be all about hard work? Why not incorporate a fun and silly goal together with your specific one? So if your ultimate goal is to lose weight, make your resolutions something like: Eat 5 servings of vegetables a day, and try a different brand of dark chocolate every Sunday!
Now not only is my brother is single, but he has been a serious runner since about age 7. So his running goal, which took 1-2 hours a day, was realistic – if a challenge – for him. For us busy moms, probably not so much! If your ultimate goal is to become more fit, think about how you can incorporate that into your busy day in a realistic manner.
For example, as a mom that works full-time, my best time to exercise is on my lunch break. I’m lucky enough to have a gym close to work with some great lunchtime classes. So my goal this year? Get to the gym at least 2 times a week.
Another great time to exercise? When Daddy is around! Give that man of yours something to do, and use your weekends or evenings to give yourself some “me” time. I love going on long runs on the weekend – and my kids are more than able to survive without me for an hour or so!
If you are more focused on food, this is another area where we need to be realistic. Let’s face it, only the rarest of moms is able and willing to eat 100% healthily all the time. And starvation diets are not only bad for our bodies, they are also horrible for the patient mood we need for those darling kiddos. Pick a few small changes for January 1, and once you’ve incorporated those, pick another few for February 1! (Joining in the Über Moms 90-day challenge would be a great way to do this, by the way!)
Finally, what about professional goals? Want to be promoted? Great! But that in itself is not a resolution that you can control. Instead, figure out what steps you might need to be considered for a promotion – being viewed as extra competent, for example, could be affected by making sure to always answer your emails within 24 hours.
And a great and fun way to make stronger connections? Give yourself a goal of having coffee or lunch with a different person each week.
Finally, remember that January 1st is not the only day that you can change yourself for the better. It may sound trite, but make every day your January 1st. Use charts or diaries to record your progress. If something is especially hard for you (giving up chocolate, anyone?), remember that it takes 21 days for habits to be formed – soon, your tough task will be just one more part of your busy day.