I am not a self-help expert, and I won’t pretend to be one. But I’ve worked with and learned from some amazing people this year. While some of this advice was given to me with completely different goals in mind, I think that they can apply to anything (physical goals, career plans, or any vision of success or dream you have). So for those of you with exercise, fitness, or wellness goals, here are some suggestions to create a New Year’s resolution and a healthier you.
Announce it to the world.
It might seem like a no-brainer to tell people what you are trying to achieve this year, but the act of announcing it has more value than simply an answer to give at a cocktail party. Write it down. Email people. Post it on your blog (I’ll convert some of you to blogging yet…). Just let people know. It might seem scary to open up, but trust me, you’ll be surprised at the support you receive.
This idea goes hand-in-hand with telling the world (or at least friends and family). Develop some system of updating your progress. Yes, writing what you did each day in a journal is good for creating accountability for yourself, but take it one step farther. Let your friends, family, and people everywhere know what you’ve achieved. Or what you haven’t. Update your progress on Facebook or Twitter. Call people. Email them. Or better yet, create a system where they call you or email you if they haven’t gotten your progress status. And if you don’t want to annoy people with daily messages, make your system weekly. But having to tell people you chose to hit snooze four days one week instead of getting out of bed and running might make you think twice.
Work with others.
Having a partner (or several) join you on your journey to a new you in 2012 will increase your chances of success in a couple of ways. First, accountability is great, but honestly, your friends might become annoyed with weekly email updates about your progress unless they are doing something similar. Create a give-and-take system where you encourage each other. Plus, we all know the feeling of not wanting to go to the gym on a given day, but we do it because we had already arranged to meet someone else there. Make that motivation automatic.
Also, there is true synergy and momentum created by collaborating with others. It’s the whole 1+1=3 idea. Maybe you just want to join a gym and go every day. If several of you start together and make it fun, the next thing you know, you might all be signing up for boot camps or CrossFit programs.
Just do it already.
Get started. Seriously. Don’t overanalyze (one of my greatest flaws actually, so I need to take my own advice). Don’t wait until the timing is perfect or everything possible is perfectly lined up. Start now and adjust course along the way. For example, don’t put off training for that marathon in September because it is too cold outside now. Go ahead and get started. Just open the door and go run. If it’s too cold, then jump on the treadmill or find an indoor track. But don’t wait.
Do something every day.
Not every goal has a clear path or set of instructions, but that shouldn’t stop you from making progress. Setting a goal of losing 20 pounds is great, but that milestone doesn’t always help you know what to do to get there. While there is never an absolutely correct process for any accomplishment, acting in some way every day is critical. Even if it is a really small step, do something that helps you get closer to your goal.
Let’s be fair. It is much easier to accomplish a goal that is relatively easy. You might get some satisfaction for making your goal to lift weights every day, even though you’ve worked out your whole life and have just missed the last couple of weeks due to a hectic schedule. Congratulations, you got back on the wagon.
Instead, pick a goal that seems impossible. One that almost terrifies you. Maybe you’ve never run a day in your life. Make your goal to run a marathon. Yes, it will take longer and far more effort to achieve it, but imagine the boost in confidence and self esteem you’ll get by making something happen that seemed crazy at the time. Even one month in, while you’re still miles from the ultimate goal, you’ll be amazed at how far you’ve already come. And you’ll be even more enthusiastic because that impractical, irrational dream will seem much more possible now. And even if you later realize that you might not climb the entire mountain, your view from the higher altitudes will have you craving more “unrealistic” goals.
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Here are some other suggestions suggested by readers. Feel free to suggest your own on Facebook or Twitter (please mention me to ensure I’ll see it). Also, I want to hear your health, wellness, exercise, or fitness goals for the coming year.
Matthew Roberts (Facebook): I think the most important thing (for me at least) is to reintroduce the word “accountability” into your everyday lexicon. We expect a lot from others whether it’s family, coworkers, friends etc but our we doing everything to be the best person for ourselves and them as well? You can not have a successful resolution without accountability..It’s my personal word of the year..
Michael S. Smith (Facebook): yes, first don’t make resolution, set goals with five steps to each goal in what you’ll do to achieve them.
Sarah Johnson (Facebook): I set very realistic goals/resolutions. I’ve started typing my list and I’m going to put one copy on the fridge, one on a mirror in my bedroom, and keep one taped on the inside cover of my daily planner! Most of my resolutions are fitness oriented so I need frequent reminders to stick with the program!