GOALS:The first of the year is prime time for setting new goals and making resolutions. Unfortunately for many of us, these goals are often abandoned before the end of January, and our resolutions rarely make it to Valentine’s Day. What kills the aspirations we are so passionate about at the beginning of each new year? The answer is simple, real life. It is one thing to fantasize about the lives we would like to lead or the goals we hope to pursue while sipping champagne and watching Mariah Carrey's fail on Dick Clark’s Rockin’ Eve. But it’s quite another to keep our good intentions alive past the first few strenuous weeks of workouts, even with that shiny new gym membership card in our wallets and those new Lulu Lemon yoga pants waiting in the drawer, begging to be worn. Eventually, we take the yoga pants out, but use them to lounge on the sofa. By March, your gym card is buried behind the receipts and gas cards in your wallet, barely seeing the light of day, much less the card swiper at the gym. Those shiny goals we set in January have faded, and we begin the process again nine months later.
Could 2017 magically be the year we turn our resolutions from fleeting fancies to finished goals? Is there a way to make our resolutions stick? Again, the answer is simple -- yes with planning. In her book Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits--to Sleep More, Quit Sugar, Procrastinate Less, and Generally Build a Happier Life, Gretchen Rubin suggests we find ways to circumvent the patterns we set that keep us from following through on our goals. In other words, to reach our goals, we have to figure out the habits we create that keep us from doing the things we want to do and break them. For example, maybe going to the gym isn’t the problem. You may even enjoy working out once you get there. But, it could be that you never have the right clothes with you when you want to go to the gym or when you’re favorite yoga class is being offered. To ensure you get there, pack a bag with your workout gear and keep it in your car or your office. As soon as you work out, replace your used workout clothes with a clean set and put the bag back in your car.
By tracing our setbacks to the point where our motivation fails and creating a solution for that breakdown, we can move past the roadblocks we create that keep us from our goals. Once we’ve removed the obstacles, studies show that if we stick to our new practice for 21 days, it will begin to become a habit. The 21-day benchmark was discovered by, Dr. Maxwell Maltz, a plastic surgeon in the 1950s who realized that it took most of his patients 21 days to acclimate to a new procedure. Whether it was their new reflection after a nose job or a different gait after an amputated leg, 21 days seemed to be the magic number. Self-help gurus seized on Maltz’s findings, reducing his minimum of 21 days to exactly 21 days as the magic number for cementing a new habit. By day 21, most people see enough progress that they feel it is worth seeing the resolution through. Whether it takes 21, 30, or 60 days, giving yourself smaller goals to reach along the way can keep you motivated, helping you reach the point where your resolution turns into routine practice.
Apps like Gym Pact are designed to motivate you by adding accountability and hard cash to back up your resolution. After downloading the app, you set your goals and track your progress. If you miss a workout, you pay out a set sum to other Gym Pact members. It's a great way for those who need a little extra prodding to stay on track, and if you stick with it, you can earn a little extra money along the way too. There are other apps like Healthy Wage and Diet Bet, which work off the concept of putting your money on the line to keep you on track.
Everything isn’t always easier in a group, but some find teamwork helps them keep a resolution or meet a goal. Find people at work, church, or in your social circle who have the same or similar goals and hold each other accountable. You might even adopt the Gym Pact model. For every missed workout, members of the team put $5 in the pot. Whoever makes it to their goal first wins!!
Regardless of the method, you choose to keep to your goal, having a set schedule is sure to aid in making 2017s resolutions the habits that stick.