We’re inching dangerously close to that time of year when nearly half of the U.S. population (45 percent) will be making resolutions for a better 2016. Shortly thereafter, we will arrive at the time when almost every single one of them has been tossed aside for old habits. Only 8 percent of people succeed with their resolutions each year, according to the Statistic Brain Research Institute.
It all seems a bit pointless when you look at those numbers. But what if we’ve just been doing it wrong this whole time? Sometimes a simple shift in our approach is all we need to arrive at the outcome we desire.
Of course, those folks who have no interest in making resolutions will keep doing their thing. And the 8 percent who successfully achieve what they set out to do each year have it goin’ on already. This is for all those people who feel compelled to make some change in the New Year, declare what it is, and then promptly give up. I must admit I’ve been in that crowd a handful of times in my life. The first step is admitting you have a problem, right?!
Maybe we’re too grandiose in our declarations at times. Grandiosity can be vague and leave us unsure how to get things rolling. How about setting ourselves up for success by striving for a small accomplishment each month rather than the ultimate end result?
Instead of just saying, “I want to get in better shape in 2016,” let’s break it down into the basic habits that will help get us there—one habit for each month of the year—and focus on just that one thing at a time. The new good habit will become part of our regular routine by the end of the month, and then we start on the next one. Twelve new good habits by the end of the year are sure to help us get closer to what we ultimately set out to accomplish.
Of course, it’s important for you to decide what habits you want to make a priority, and you should be completely honest with yourself when deciding. If your goal is to improve your overall health, here’s an example of what the first few months might look like. Remember to set yourself up for success, and make sure your list helps you work toward your resolution—but also make sure it’s realistic and doable.
January: Exercise 4 days per week. Just get up and move. Don’t worry about it being the most popular fad of the moment. The most important thing is to choose an exercise that you’ll stick with. It’s better to enjoy a walk through the neighborhood a few times a week than it is to give up on your lofty 5-mile run.
February: Eat a healthier diet. Decide what that means for you, either on your own or with your health practitioner. Come up with a weekly meal plan, do the grocery shopping, and make it happen. If you aren’t interested in coming up with a meal plan on your own, no problem. There are books with meal plans out there for every approach you can think of. One example is Eat Fat, Lose Fat by Dr. Mary Enig and Sally Fallon. You can also do some research online for the eating style (paleo, ketogenic, etc.) that interests you most, and find a reputable person who offers that kind of meal plan over the Internet. It may cost you a little bit of money, but sometimes when you’re just getting started, the easy way out is exactly what you need.
March: Lift weights. Whether you get yourself a kettlebell or use those hand weights that have been gathering dust in the corner, it’s easy to find a 30-day challenge on the Internet for using them. Plus it will take all of the guesswork out of what to do with them and how often.
April: Learn a new cooking technique, like lacto-fermentation. Fermented foods are wicked healthy for you and not nearly as complicated as you might think. Whether you’re a novice, want to build on your skills, or have dabbled in this technique before, SRP has several fermentation books to get you started.
There you have it, four months of good habits to build on. Again, these may not be the same ones you’d choose for yourself, but hopefully it will get your wheels turning and help you decide what you’re willing to commit to.
Don’t be intimidated by the statistics. Decide what you want to accomplish by the end of 2016 and follow up with 12 good habits that will help you thrive.
Are you willing to join me in resolving to make better resolutions this year?
Photo from iStock/ratmaner