Happy New Year to Everyone! A new calendar year marks the time for new beginnings and new resolutions. For most of us, this means, goals are set, changes are made and after a few weeks old habits are resumed. Returning to old habits does not mean that you don’t have the discipline or motivation to keep to your goals. It is simply that change is HARD! We all have our routines and ways of life. Getting out of these old routines can be challenging. Now, it doesn’t mean that it is impossible to make changes. It simply means that changes can be made with the right approach.
We can all write 20 things down in our notebook that we want to improve on this upcoming year but what does it take to create resolutions that actually stick? It is estimated that about 10% of us actually keep our New Year's Resolutions and most of us will give up on our goals before February.
Research shows that committing to small and simple health changes over time are what lead us to maintain our health goals. Something done consistently over long periods of time has a larger impact than big changes made at once but only lasts a little bit. So this year take the time to decide on your New Year's Resolutions so they can be sustainable and achievable.
Here are some tips to create long-lasting change:
Keep your list small
- Too many changes at once can be very overwhelming and frustrating. Oftentimes, this is what makes us revert to old patterns and lose all motivation to continue with our resolutions. So, keep your list under 3. Once you have mastered all 3 goals and they are now habitual, add more!
Clearly define your goal
- Determine how exactly you will implement your resolutions into your daily life. If you know that more physical activity will benefit your cardiovascular system and so your resolution is “increase physical activity”. That is amazing! But, You need to make this goal more specific. For example, I will go for a walk outdoors for 20-30 minutes and on days that it is too cold or raining I will walk on a treadmill for the same amount of time. I will do this 4x a week. You can even go a step further and add these walks and times to your calendar. Lay out a plan in terms of timings and days. This will hold you accountable.
Write Your Goals Down
- Writing goals down can make them feel more tangible. Try including pictures and diagrams to make it even more real. Add a description beside your goal about why it is important to you. Vividly writing your goals is strongly associated with goal success. Writing it down can help to access and review at any time. If 3 weeks down the line you are feeling demotivated, take out that piece of paper and read the description on why you chose that goal in the first place. This may be just what is needed to stay on track.
Take Baby Steps
- Make resolutions you know you can keep. For example, if the aim is to exercise more frequently, then schedule 3-4 days a week at the gym instead of 7. Small changes make it easier to stick to your new habits and increase the likelihood of success.
Talk About Your Goals
- Share your experiences with family and friends. Having someone to share your struggles and successes with makes the process less intimidating.
During the first few days, or even weeks you will feel pumped and highly motivated to make all the changes you desire. After a couple weeks, reality sets in and challenges and temptations come closer. This is the time where most people fall off. But this year, I want you to take the time and review your written goals. Remind yourself of why you chose these specific resolutions and keep yourself inspired! Remember, creating new habits takes time and energy. Change is a process, it does not happen overnight. Habits take time before they stick. Always keep trying, seek support and stay positive! This year be accountable for your goals and commit to them wholeheartedly!
Blog Writted By: Dr. Saira Kassam | 2019