At the end of December each year, I reflect back over the previous year looking at the highs and lows; the goals I set and didn’t accomplish along with the ones I did achieve. Somehow my mind always wanders to my body or my body image and I reflect on the previous year’s goals. The majority of the time they involve going to the gym and eating better and 90% of time I haven’t come close to meeting them. And as inconceivable as it sounds I find myself making the exact same New Year’s resolution I wasn’t able to accomplish last year, again!
Does this sound familiar? Many people find themselves stuck in this exact same loop, making the same New Year’s resolutions year after year. In fact the top 10 New Years resolutions have to do with weight, the gym, and health. Do these sound familiar: ‘I will work out at least three times a week, I will not eat any desserts, I will lose 10 pounds, I will get a six-pack, I won’t eat after 8pm, I will go to sleep by midnight, etc.’ Most of us enter the new year determined to achieve our goals of hitting the gym or watching what we eat, but why don’t the changes ever last through march?
Why? Because most New Year’s resolutions are emotionless and without any motivating or driving force behind them.
To change a behavior or a daily habit for a week or two is easy, however it is incredibly difficult to sustain that change over a long period time or for the rest of your life if you don’t have a good reason to do it (and knowing you should do it, isn’t a good enough reason for most of us). Everyone knows they should exercise and eat better, but most of us don’t. You go to the doctor and they tell you to watch the salt or to steer clear of fast food, but inevitably you go right back into those habits after the shock from the visit wears off. So how do you make a New Year’s resolution that sticks? Make it personal and important.
So if you want to change your behavior or lifestyle here are some steps that can help you start 2013 off on the right track.
1. Think of a New Year’s resolution and write it down. Example: I want to have better blood sugar control.
2. Look at the resolution and ask yourself why it is important to you? List your reasons. Example: I want to live a long time and watch my son graduate high school, I don’t want to lose my toes or feet, I watched my mother die from the disease and I don’t want to go through the same thing.
3. Now I want you to rate your reasons (1 being the most important, 10 being the least). Example: 1) My son’s graduation, 2) Don’t want my Moms end of life, 3) I want to keep my toes.
4. Now that we have solid and important reasons to change our behavior and achieve our goal, I want you to think about how you can go about it, what will I have to change on a daily or weekly basis to make the goal work. Write down ways you can meet your goals and be very detailed. Example: I will put out my finger sticks by the bedside table so I can test by blood sugar right when I wake up. I will make an appointment with a dietitian to make a meal plan. I will keep a log of my sugars every day. I will switch from juice to diet soda.
5. Excellent work, now we not only have a reason to make our change, but we have a detailed plan on how we are going to do it! What is left? How about some rewards? Set-up some mini-mile stones and rewards (not food related) when you meet them. This will help that motivation continue through the year until it becomes routine. Example: I will take my family ice skating if my blood sugar stays below 200 for one month. If I keep my blood sugar below 180 for three months I get to book my summer vacation.
Remember you can make goals and revise goals throughout the year and use the same method to meet them. So what are you waiting for? Get started on your New Year’s resolution now and have the faith and belief that this time you are knocking it out of the ball park!