Chinese Culture >> New Year Resolutions
If you're like most people, your New Year's resolutions are now
just a dim memory of good intentions shared over a glass of champagne. Don't
give up or feel guilty. There's still time for a fresh start.
First, forget resolutions and think goal setting instead
Start by taking a bird's eye view of your life. What's working? What's not? Your challenges offer your greatest opportunity for growth.
The next step for setting powerful goals is to recognize what's most important
to you. For example, if spending time with your family and advancing your career
are high priorities, then your goal to lose fifteen pounds must be aligned with
those priorities. So if losing weight means healthier meals with your family and
increased productivity and confidence at work, you're more likely to stay on
track and motivated.
Picture yourself achieving your goals
Now, close your eyes and picture what it will be like as you make changes. How will you feel when you eventually achieve your goal? What will your life be like? Picture yourself taking the necessary steps and successfully building new habits into your lifestyle. With this clear vision in mind, write down your goals using positive, inspiring words. For example, instead of writing "I will stop eating junk food," write "I will eat more healthfully so I'll feel better and live longer."
Create a three-part action plan
Now take your written goals and break them into at least three small, specific, action steps. Be sure you write down each step and when you plan to accomplish it. Instead of "I will lose fifteen pounds," you could write, "I will eat five servings of fruits and vegetables every day, starting today. I will walk for ten minutes during my breaks at work twice a day by next month. I will write down at least five enjoyable activities that I can use to distract myself instead of overeating by next week."
At this point, review your steps to make sure that they are realistic. For example, people give up on their weight loss efforts because they try to restrict their diet too much. This leads to feelings of deprivation and rebound overeating and guilt. Learn from your past mistakes and follow an eating plan that includes your favorite foods and allows you to eat when you're hungry.
Once you're satisfied with your action plan, put your written goals where you'll
see them often. You might set them on your bedside table, write them on your
mirror in felt tip pen (as long as it isn't a permanent marker) or tape them to
your computer monitor. Your written action steps give your brain a map to
Decide if you'll need new tools or support to achieve your goals
Maybe there's a book that would help or a support group you could join. Perhaps you could ask a friend to be your "accountability partner" and make arrangements to check in with each other on a weekly basis.
Anticipate possible set-backs and create a plan for overcoming likely obstacles
When you make mistakes, treat yourself the way you would your best friend. Be nonjudgmental and encouraging rather than harsh and shaming. Don't expect yourself to be perfect; it's not possible or necessary.
Assess your progress regularly
If you've reached your goal, repeat the process to take yourself to the next level. If you haven't, reassess your goal and plan. Was it realistic and aligned with your priorities? Did you outline small, specific steps? How did you handle the unavoidable challenges? What did you learn and what will you do differently this time?
Last, but most importantly, enjoy the process
Improving your life is exciting, but living your life is even better. Celebrate all of the small steps along the way. Make your goals happily achieved, not achieved to by happy.
About the Author:
Michelle May, M.D. is a recovered yoyo dieter and the award-winning author of Am I Hungry? What To Do When Diets Don't Work. Learn to manage your weight without deprivation and guilt with Dr. May's complimentary mini e-course at http://www.amihungry.com/mini-e-course-intro.shtml