I want to lose weight…exercise more…travel more…be more organized…eat better…
How many times have we set new year’s resolutions like these? And how many times have we succeeded in accomplishing them?
Personally I’ve stopped setting goals for the new year because I’ve never held myself accountable to follow through with them. I read in Psychology Today’s article “Don’t Delay” that this is pretty common because we set resolutions that aren’t manageable when the time comes to set them in place. In the article, Dr. Timothy A. Pychyl says:
“Perhaps the best way…is to move from the broad goal intentions…to more specific plans for action. When and where will you do what?
…Let’s take the classic example of the new years’ resolution of ‘get more exercise.’ If more exercise is your new year’s resolution, it’s time to get specific. When, exactly, are you going to do this exercise, and what, exactly, will you do? As you think forward to the future, this mental time travel will help build some reality into the plan. You’ll need to schedule when you’re actually going to do that exercise (remembering how busy every day really seems to be), and you’ll need to set realistic goals as well (perhaps running 10K daily isn’t a realistic start).
…[W]hat we’re seeking to do is to make our projects more manageable. When we have a meaningful project (which new year’s resolutions typically are) and we make it manageable, we’re well on the way to success.“
My friend Dave posted something on Facebook that caught my attention. He is setting a goal for himself to run every day in 2014. Before you scoff at this idea, you should read his post, which is extremely motivating and defines how these new year’s resolutions should be addressed, in my humble opinion:
“2014 is hours away. I am setting a goal for myself. An aspiration more than a resolution. My plan is to run every day in 2014. This is going to start as a doozy as I have a 16 hour drive back to Atlanta on the first day of the year!
There may be days I miss. 365 days of running is quite a feat (feet, heh). But my plan is to set a humongous goal for myself and work towards achieving it!
I believe the focus and grit and highlights and lowlights will help me develop as a stronger person – physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
These aren’t resolutions. These are actions and habits to change our way of living to be more positive, healthy, and uplifting!”
So, I’m going to take Dave’s lead here and set some actions in place. I’d like to train for another half marathon this year, which means more running each week. By doing a short run at least once during the week and a long run on the weekends, I will be on my way to completing my third half marathon. I’d also like to incorporate more cross training than I have in years past, which means more weight lifting and exercises for the core. So, my other aspiration for this year is to lift weights at least once a week. This will build my upper body strength and help me center my core, which will help with running.
Last year, my big change in life was to try a vegan diet; and even though I set this goal at the end of January, it was one that was attainable for me because it was meaningful. As Dr. Pychyl said in the Psychology Today article, when we set goals that are meaningful and manageable, we become successful in altering our behavior.
If you want to do what I did last year and try a vegan diet, consider taking a pledge of eating meatless meals once a week this year. Or, set an even bigger challenge by eating completely vegan for a month. That may sound like a lot of time, but it’s just 30 days out of the entire year. And, there are plenty of resources out there that can help you along the way, including starter kits from The Vegan Starter Kit, PCRM, PETA or Mercy For Animals. Of course, I’m here to help as much as possible (I’m not a licensed dietitian, so I would have to refer you to someone about any medical questions).
Take your time with setting a goal for this year and make it one that you’re willing to integrate into your life to make it stick. Let me know the answer to this question so we can help each other: How do you want to make things different in 2014?