With time, energy and willpower at a minimum right about now, there’s no more critical moment to make a solid game plan for the resolutions you’ll utter on January 1st.
What initially seems doable may, in fact, prove impractical, so set yourself up for success by taking a moment to reconsider your approach – and give these three shortcuts a shot to help you realize those resolutions, once and for all:
#1: Aim for 80 percent
We come crashing out of the gates every year saying, “This one will be different!” And it usually is. For two weeks. Then the holiday high wears off, so it’s important to reevaluate and be realistic about your goals.
First, recognize that adopting an “all-or-nothing” mentality rarely works. Just as perfection isn’t attainable, it’s difficult to expect to hit the gym every day or eat clean at every meal. Inevitably, you’ll miss a workout or veer off course diet-wise, then one day or one cookie turns into one week or one bag, respectively. It’s a slippery slope trying to get back on track after getting tripped-up.
Second, re-frame your definition of success, focusing on changing your behavior 80 percent of the time. If your goal is to eat well, it’s much more palatable to try for five days of healthy meals and two “off” days, giving yourself a better chance to actually follow through.
#2: Cut some corners
No one has access to an endless supply of money, motivation or time when it comes to doing what it takes to get healthy, so it’s important to cut yourself some slack. Instead of making excuses, take stock of your potential blind spots, and don’t be afraid to rely on people and programs to help you make good on those resolutions.
For example, if you find yourself skipping too many workouts due to an overloaded schedule, setting an appointment with a trainer is a terrific way to keep yourself accountable each week. Or if you fall back on fast food after a long day at work, try a meal delivery program such as Nutrisystem, with its portion-controlled meals in microwave-ready packages.
Make it easier on yourself by making it foolproof. Take stock of your weak spots and plan accordingly, whether it’s sleeping in workout gear to make it easier to work out in the morning, or simply prepping a week’s worth of meals on Sunday to take the guesswork out what you’ll be eating each day.
#3: Use positive reinforcement
When all else fails, don’t be above bribing yourself into better habits. Nothing’s quite as motivating – or satisfying – as being rewarded for hard work. And depending on how you’re tracking against your goal, you may need to readjust and make the qualifying milestones smaller in order to maintain momentum.
The best rewards are non-essential items; when you don’t need something, it’s a lot easier to want to earn it. Try relating your treat to working out (a race entry for a month of running or a special yoga class for a week of weight lifting), and enjoy benefits that are two-fold: Not only do you gain that extra burst of motivation, but you are also reinforcing good behavior in the process. Start with a small reward; you’d be surprised how even a $10-20 indulgence can work wonders.
How are you planning to keep yourself on track with healthy habits in the New Year?