Every year I jump on the New Years resolution band wagon, write about 10 lofty changes I want to make in the new year, only to have them fizzle out around January 15 when real life has resumed and I can’t keep up with all the changes. I wrote out my resolutions for 2011 on my blog. I have worked on some, and others completely fell by the wayside.
What do I love about the new year? I love a fresh start. The new year, the spring, beginning of the school year – these times always signal a fresh start and new beginnings. But really, each day, each hour, each minute, each second is a new beginning.
What do I not love about resolutions? They are too hard to keep. They are often abstract and unrealistic. Some are not unrealistic so much, but there are no concrete steps written down to get you from the resolution to actually making a lifestyle change.
For example, say you want to lose 15 pounds. You write that down as your New Year’s resolution. Well, what is your motivation to lose that weight? Do you want to get healthier? Do you want to change your appearance? Do you have a medical condition that would improve if you lost the weight? Do you just think you “should”? If you have no real reason behind wanting to do something or make a change, it won’t happen. Because when it gets hard to keep going with your new habits (and it will), you need to have something to focus on for why you are doing what you are doing!
Now you have this resolution written down, but do you ever stop to think about how you are going to make it happen and when you want to have it completed? It is easy to eat right, go to the gym and stop drinking soda for a week or two, or maybe even a month, but then what happens when your regular life and old habits get in the way?
Losing 15 pounds is not an unreasonable goal, but you need a plan for how you are going to get there. And you need to set a date for when you want to be at the finish line. Most experts say to lose 1 – 2 pounds a week to have the best chance of keeping it off for good. So erring on the side of caution, say it will take you 15 weeks to lose the weight – that brings you to about the middle of April to have that weight gone if you start January 1.
Now you have your date in mind, but how are you going to do it? To lose one pound a week you must eliminate 3500 calories. This can be done through eating less or exercising more (or both). So set some concrete goals. You will work out to burn an extra 500 calories 3 times a week (-1500 calories/week). And each day you will consume around 300 calories less a day (-2700 calories/week) – maybe cut out one soda and choose smaller portions for dinner.
Now you have made this resolution a reality. You have steps in place for the how and you have the motivation for the why.
So this year, instead of resolving to do anything, I am writing out goals for myself in different areas of my life that I want to improve on – personal, marriage/kids, household management, financial, my blog/Etsy, and extended family and friend relationships.
I found some great printables at Money Saving Mom. They are Customizable Goal Planning Forms. They were exactly what I was looking for to document my goals and keep track of how I am going to get there. You should definitely check them out.
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