Another year has begun. Now that the trials and tribulations of 2016 are behind us, we can charge toward the resolutions we declared for the clean slate of 2017. As you consider what you want to achieve in the upcoming year, there are a few things you can do to set yourself up for success.
Consult an Expert
No matter what you want to accomplish, chances are pretty good that someone else has already mastered it. Find that person and ask if they’re willing to share their wisdom, either online or in person. What pitfalls did they encounter? What learning tools did they find most valuable?
The SRP Historical Archives offers expert advice on a great number of topics. Want to reduce the amount of sugar you eat? Simply type “sugar” into the search box, and you’ll find several articles to convince you that this brilliant resolution is worthy of your time and energy. If you want to further boost your self-health education on the detriments of sugar—and learn how it became such a big part of every day life—read William Dufty’s classic book Sugar Blues.
Make a Plan
You’re solid on your resolution and committed to making it happen. But what’s that old saying? If memory serves, it goes something like this: A goal without a plan is nothing but a wish.
Since most people don’t make New Year’s “wishes,” coming up with a plan is essential. Let’s keep with the example of reducing your sugar intake and see if we can’t come up with a strategy. It may look something like this:
- Investigate which alternative sweeteners are the healthiest, and stock your pantry only with those options.
- Take a close look at the other foods in your pantry and see which items contain hidden sugar. (The answer is sure to surprise you.)
- Make more homemade meals—it’s the best way to control what ingredients are in your food.
And so on. Perhaps you can brush up on how to make the best choices at your local grocery store by revisiting your copy of Stephanie Selene Anderson’s Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is! And if you don’t have a copy yet, reading this guide to healthy food shopping would be a great first step in your plan.
The cool thing is that many people out there have already created plans you can follow, an option that requires very little thought on your end. For example, the 21-Day Sugar Detox program by Diane Sanfilippo spells out a 3-week strategy for kicking the sugar habit for good using whole foods. Or you can simply do a basic online search for “sugar detox” to find plenty of other ideas. The key is to educate yourself and choose the plan that you’re most likely to follow.
Adjust as Needed
As you dive into your plan, you’ll likely discover that certain aspects of it don’t work for you quite the way you want. That’s perfectly normal and fine. Just take a break and think about what might work better. Maybe, for you, success means taking smaller steps. Maybe you’ll realize you need to approach your goal in some other way. Or maybe something will surface that you hadn’t even realized would be an issue.
For example, it’s not unusual to experience some major cravings during the first few days of eliminating sugar from your diet. Many sugar-detox plans offer suggestions for how to get through these cravings without emptying the sugar bowl directly into your mouth. If one suggestion doesn’t work for you, try another. Once the cravings pass, you’ll be glad you toughed it out.
If you’re paving your own way, perhaps you haven’t even considered the withdrawal that inevitably comes with kicking sugar. Finding the solution that will get you through those moments will keep you on track toward your ultimate goal. I’ve read that craving sweets is actually a sign that you need more protein, so try eating a handful of almonds or a hard-boiled egg.
Any change you make in your life can be a real challenge, so be sure to celebrate even the smallest successes. When you’re devising your overall plan, also write up a list of guilty pleasures you rarely indulge in and post it on your refrigerator. As you hit milestones, choose something from your list as recognition for your determination and hard work.
Hopefully, none of these things go against what you’re trying to accomplish. Right? It should be understood that if you’re working toward busting your sugar obsession, don’t add “bake a pan of peanut butter swirl brownies” to your list of guilty pleasure rewards. That will only set you back.
But you could, say, take a hot bath. Watch your favorite movie. Seek out a quiet, cozy room to read in for an hour. Downtime can feel like a real treat, and rewarding yourself may get you excited about reaching the next step of your resolution.
It doesn’t matter if you love making New Year’s resolutions or if you simply prefer to set goals as the urge strikes. What does matter is finding a way to make them a reality. That’s the whole point. So don’t make another resolution before you consider your approach and set yourself up to win.
How do you approach making new resolutions or goals in your life?
Photo from iStock/Oko_SwanOmurphy