You can’t do it alone. Your family, friends and coworkers play a big part in helping you reach your goal — or holding you back from it. Are you trying to cut down on alcohol, but your friends are religious about meeting for happy hour on Thursdays? Are you trying to quit smoking, but all of your coworkers take a cigarette break together? You may find you need to change certain aspects of your support system to have success, said Selig.
“If your friends are the kind that would encourage you to cheat rather than change, that’s a huge problem,” said Selig.
The good news is that you don’t have to quit your job or dump your friends to make your resolutions last. Instead, try to make positive changes to your relationships. Suggest a weekly spa date or a group lunch instead of a happy hour, or a coffee break instead of a cigarette break, explaining to your friends or coworkers why you need to make the change. If you have to skip out on a few social gatherings while you’re solidifying your willpower, that’s okay, too.
“Temporarily put yourself in more healthy situations until your newborn habit gets a little stronger and you’ve developed some muscles,” said Selig.
If you can, involve your family and friends in your resolution process — it’s a great way to keep you motivated. Find a buddy who has a similar resolution, and check in with each other weekly to talk about your challenges and progress. Even if your loved ones don’t share your goal, their support can be invaluable in helping you stick to your guns. “I always lay my workout gear beside my bed at night to make it that bit easier to get dressed when my alarm goes off at 5:30am. I also enlist my husband, who gets up at 5:15am, to make sure I don’t press snooze!” said Warrell.
It would be great if we could just snap our fingers and be slimmer, more toned or conditioned to love Brussels sprouts, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the way it works. But that doesn’t stop many of us from hoping that we can find a quick fix to reach our New Year’s goals.
“People make the mistake of thinking of their change as a temporary thing rather than a long-term thing that can make their life healthier,” said Selig.
Those carb-only diets or intense workout plans may help you reach your goal short-term, but you won’t have developed or created any long-term healthy habits. To do that, your resolution needs to lay the foundations for permanent behavior change. Think of a plan or pattern that you could live with, not just for six months, but far into the future. Remember: A fad diet might get you into your favorite skinny jeans by February, but creating healthier eating habits will have you flaunting your bod all year long.
When you make a resolution, it’s easy to constantly be looking forward, thinking about what you have to do to accomplish your goal. But it’s also important to recognize and reward the smaller successes along the way. In other words, give yourself a pat on the back once in awhile — you deserve it!
A small daily, weekly or monthly reward can help you emphasize the progress you’re making, said Selig. “One of my students who wanted to quit smoking decided to put her daily cigarette money in a big glass jar to save for a special trip. She loved seeing the money accumulate! It reinforced her daily efforts to quit,” said Selig.
Design your resolution plan that rewards yourself for hitting your personal marks along the way. Reward yourself with a spa day after a month of daily exercise, or buy that jacket you’ve always wanted when you shed your first five pounds. If you have something to look forward to, you’ll be that much more motivated to keep pushing forward!
Published December 27, 2012
Brittany Doohan is a health and lifestyle writer living in San Francisco.