Monday, December 31, 2012

Making Resolutions that Work

Once again it is the end of one year and the beginning of the next. And, many of us will be making New Year’s Resolutions. As we know, most resolutions are broken early on or never actually started. To help you (and myself) have maximum opportunity for success with resolutions, I offer these tips:

Be specific
Rather than say, “I resolve to lose weight this year,” resolve to lose ten pounds in the next six months. Rather than say, “I resolve to read more,” resolve to read one book in the next two months.

Make realistic resolutions
Rather than say, “I resolve to exercise for an hour every day,” resolve to walk for 20 minutes three times a week.” Rather than say, “I resolve to eliminate chocolate and/or fried foods from my diet,” resolve to limit the intake of chocolate to one candy bar per week/two meals per week that have fried foods.

Make two or three resolutions
Rather than make a huge list of resolutions, just make two or three that are specific and realistic. Be consistent with your commitment to those few resolutions, and when you have mastered them, make new resolutions or revise the current ones. For example, if you resolve to walk for 20 minutes three times a week, and you are successful in doing this until Valentine’s Day, revise that resolution to walking for 30 minutes four times a week. Then, if you have done this consistently, at Easter, revise again to walk for 45 minutes five times a week.

Make an action plan
Now outline how you are going to enact these resolutions. When are you going to actual walk those 20 minutes and where? (I find that if I get on the treadmill right after morning necessities and before getting ready for work, the walking/jogging happens.) What are you going to take for lunch at work every day to avoid chicken nuggets, fries, etc.? (Planning for an packing your own lunch doesn’t have to be hard or time consuming. I’m sure pintrest has lots of ideas!)

Stick to the action plan
Do whatever you can to commit and maintain your plan. Take those extra five minutes every evening to put your lunch together. Get up 30 minutes earlier to exercise. Keep track of your success (or barriers to your success).

Re-evaluate the action plan
Some say it takes 21 days of consistently modifying a behavior to make it a habit. I would suggest trying it for 6 weeks. Nobody is perfect, but it is important to have more days where you are consistent with your efforts than days where you are not.
If you have been successful for six weeks, ramp up your plan or create a new resolution/goal for yourself.
If you have not been as successful as you hoped, really be honest with yourself about what happened. Were you not committed? What got in the way? Did you pick a time of day to exercise that wasn’t realistic? Did you make a resolution that was too challenging at this time?

Making changes to eating habits, exercise routines (like adding one J), thinking positively, behavior changes, response/reaction changes, etc., are challenging. You’ve been doing things a particular way for a very long time. Thinking you can change overnight is not realistic and not fair to yourself.

Sometimes we have to change the messages we tell ourselves. So you cheated on your new diet plan and had an order of fries on the way home one evening. So what? Don’t throw all your efforts and hopes and work away! You’re not a bad person! Just don’t stop at McD’s tomorrow. Tell yourself, “I will do better tomorrow.” Then do better tomorrow. 

All of these suggestions have helped me be successful in a number of life changes, one of which involved losing 48 pounds in the last 2 years. If I can be successful with this challenge and many others I have faced and changed over the years, you can too! 
Before the commitment with a doable action plan (Dec. 2010)
Dec. 2012 .. 48 pounds lighter! :-)

By the way....all these tips apply to child care and teaching practices. If there is a professional skill you wish to develop or a practice you wish to change, the tips should help you do that, too!

If you need a cheerleader or coach, I am happy to help! If you would like your resolutions evaluated for “doableness,” I am happy to help! And remember, in the words of Helen Keller, “Your success and happiness lies in you. Resolve to keep happy, and your joy and you shall form an invincible host against difficulties.”

Happy New Year and Best Wishes in all your future endeavors!
~Dr. Ellaine B. Miller
Auburn University

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations and great advice! I make too big of goals, also. This will help.


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