It’s now three months into the new year and I know some of our New Year’s resolutions have been long and forgotten. Maybe it was an unintentional forgetting, or maybe your craving for a soda at the movies was stronger than your will to keep your resolution to stay away from junk foods. Or maybe you’re holding on well to your promise to make your bed every morning. Regardless of which category you fall into, it may be a good idea to edit your resolutions to get you back on track or keep you on track to achieve some lifestyle changes.
I’ll be using my own fitness resolution as an example. I told myself I would stay committed to being fit. Admirable and common enough of a New Year’s resolution, but vague enough that I might be able to say “Yeah, I went to the gym four times last week,” in January but also, “I managed to go once this week,” in March and still feel ‘committed’ to my resolution. Here’s how to improve your resolutions:
The problem with my fitness example is that it’s too broad. Going to the gym four times in a week sounds great, but in actuality, I went and putzed around for an hour each time, unable to get a free power rack to bench or squat and resorting to using machines. But in the week where I went once, I was able to bench, squat, deadlift, and overhead press. Try not to leave room for interpretation in your goal. “Stay committed to being fit,” becomes “Bench press at every gym session.”
We make resolutions to improve ourselves. “Bench press at every gym session,” can improve strength and fitness but how much? I could bench the same weight every time, and fulfill my resolution at the end of the year. But that’s not particularly fulfilling to my person. Instead of promising to simply perform an action repeatedly, I want to perform an action repeatedly to an end. My general goal in lifting weights is to watch my numbers increase. Numbers, quantifying, make a goal more concrete. “Bench press at every gym session,” becomes “Bench at every gym session to be able to bench 65 pounds by the end of this year.” (It doesn’t sound like a lot, but I’m a 5-foot-tall, 87-pound girl currently benching 50 pounds, so there are limitations on my number goals.)
A main issue with resolutions, when they’re vague or unquantified, is that they become too big to tackle. An increase in 15 pounds on bench press is a daunting gap. I might not know where to begin. But with some Googling, realistic thinking, and simple math, I understand I can increase weight by 2.5 pounds at least every six weeks, while increasing reps within each set of six weeks, to hit 65 by the end of the year. I now have mini, short-term resolutions within my main resolution that I can keep track of on a more regular basis. You can write these down on a post it on your fridge or input them into your calendars. “Bench at every gym session to be able to bench 65 pounds by the end of this year,” becomes ‘Bench at every gym session and increase weight by 2.5 every six weeks to hit 65 at the end of the year.”
4. Hold yourself accountable
The person who most wants you to achieve your resolutions is probably yourself, so you want to be the one who takes charge of making them happen. Keep yourself accountable in multiple ways. Name your morning alarm ‘Meditate’ to remind yourself to meditate before starting your day. Check off a box next to a week in your calendar only if you hadn’t drank soda during the week. There are also apps that can remind you of and keep track of your progress. ‘Bench at every gym session and increase weight by 2.5 every six weeks to hit 65 at the end of the year,” gains an sidenote of sorts: “Cross-check progress at every six weeks.”
5. Have others hold you accountable
While you are ultimately responsible for your achievement, it may help to have the support (or pressure) of others to keep you motivated. When others are aware of your resolution, they can remind you to keep it or encourage you to push through difficult times. If you absent-mindedly reach for a soda during lunch, they can say, “Hey, let’s get waters instead,” to gently push you back towards your goal. Be upfront about how intensely you’d like them to watch you though to avoid bridges burnt over a well-intentioned comment like, “Wow, I guess you gave up pretty quickly on not eating junk food.” My final resolution became ‘Bench at every gym session and increase weight by 2.5 every 6 weeks to hit 65 at the end of the year. Cross-check progress at every six weeks. Ask boyfriend to push me to reach each six week goal.”
Re-evaluating your New Year’s resolution can be useful whether you’re still going strong or have forgotten you even made a resolution in the first place. Hopefully these quick tips can be the key to jump-starting or reinforcing your motivation to achieve your goals.