It’s that time of year – New Year’s resolutions are right around the corner. Just as cliche as these can be, so is the moment you fail. It’s almost become an expectation; not if you’ll fail, but when.
So we started thinking, what’s a New Year’s resolution that you could break down into smaller parts? Would it help you reach your goal if you focused on those parts rather than the whole? Then we realized, you can approach just about any resolution that way.
To give you an idea of what we mean, we’re going to look at bettering your digestive health in 2016. But, rather than proclaiming, “I’m getting healthier!” (which can be empowering!) we’ve created smaller, more attainable lampposts to get you to your ultimate goal.
Out with the old
One reason why so many people fail to fulfill their resolution is because they make very broad, sweeping statements that are unrealistic and ambiguous (and thus, easy to to let go of). “Losing weight is not a specific goal,” says Psychology Today. “Losing 10 pounds in 90 days would be.”
So you’ve got a great resolution! How are you going to accomplish it? We’re taking it a step further. Because the “what” isn’t the most important – the “how” is. Sure, you’d like to improve your health or save more money, but how are you going to do that?
You need the right tools
When you make a resolution to do something, what you’re really saying is that you want to change a behavior. A great way to change a behavior is to arm yourself with some tools that can help.
Here are some ideas.
- If your goal is to drink more water, get a double-walled tumbler to take with you to work. Then, set a reminder for every two to three hours to finish and refill it.
- If you want to save more money, open an account at a different bank, and set up a direct deposit of $20 (or whatever you can afford) each pay period. Since it won’t be connected to your regular checking, you won’t be able to pull from it as easily.
- Want to eat more veggies? Invest in some new tupperware and each Sunday, cut up some fresh veggies and portion them out. Take one to work with you each day.
- If you’re trying to lose weight, look into a meal tracking app, an exercise buddy or an online workout plan.
- Quitting smoking? Work with your doctor to put together a course of action and decide what tools you’ll need. Gum, patches, a journal, therapy, or whatever you decide will work best for you.
Break it down
Back to digestive health, what kinds of behaviors might improve yours?
- Drinking more water
- Exercising more
- Avoiding certain foods
- Seeking out healthy alternatives
- Getting screened
If you try to do this all at once, you’re bound to feel overwhelmed. Instead, make one move at a time, let yourself get used to it, then add or alter another behavior. It typically takes three weeks to form a new habit, so give yourself at least that much time between each. Here’s a sample calendar to get your gut in a healthier state.
January 4 – Start drinking an extra 8 oz. of water each day. Get a refillable bottle and figure out how many times you need to fill it up to hit your goal. Take it with you everywhere.
January 25 – Find a seven or ten minute exercise routine you like and do it once a week. Write or type it in your calendar to hold yourself accountable. Try to schedule it for a morning or weekend where you have the fewest chores to take care of.
February 15 – Cut out one bad thing you eat each day. It could be your afternoon bag of chips, your mid-morning doughnut or your after-dinner cookies. Rather than eliminating those calories, have an extra serving of the next or previous meal you eat.
March 7 – Start doing your exercise routine twice a week.
March 28 – Schedule your next screening. March is Colon Cancer Awareness month, so make a push to get all of your appointments in order.
April 18 – Now, instead of having an extra serving of your meal, replace that with apple slices and a tablespoon of peanut butter, half an avocado with salt and smoked paprika or a half cup of roasted chickpeas. Any snack you like that also has some fat, protein and fiber.
May 9 – Now you’re drinking more water, eating less junk and more healthy food, exercising twice a week and your screenings for the year are on your calendar, if not complete.
When you break your goal into small chunks, it’s not just more attainable and less intimidating, but your chances of success go through the roof. And you might even find yourself adding or changing additional behaviors as you move along.