The start of a new year is the perfect time to turn a new page, which is probably why so many people create New Year's Resolutions. A new year often feels like a fresh start, a great opportunity to eliminate bad habits and establish new routines that will help you grow as a person and as a parent. Of course, resolutions are much easier to make than to keep and by the end of January many of us have abandoned our resolve and settled back into our old patterns.
Whether you're trying to quit smoking, lose weight or start exercising, lifestyle changes are hard work. In fact, 3 out of 4 people find they face major hurdles when they are trying to alter a habit.
Once you get started, staying motivated can be its own hurdle. Having a game plan at the outset is important to staying the course, but you should also have a plan to address your obstacles. Whatever your goal is, here are a few pointers for keeping on track and staying motivated this year:
When starting out, create a road map for change. Write down your goal. Make it specific and realistic. Break your overall goal down into small, more easily achievable goals every few weeks. In other words, make a commitment to change by making a plan and sticking to it, rather than just hoping things fall into place on their own.
Plan ahead. Consider what time and resources you need and then plan accordingly. For example, if you're trying to eat better, make sure to have healthy snacks on hand wherever you go. If you want to be more active, set aside time during your lunch or a coffee break to take a walk.
Don't go it alone. Having a partner at your side who is working on a similar goal can make it easier to stick with your plan. Talk to your friends, spouse, family members or coworkers about your interest in leading a healthier life and invite them to join you in your efforts.
Keep track of your other health improvements. It's easy to stay motivated when you see what other benefits you get from your new lifestyle choice. If your goal was to stop smoking, check to see if your blood pressure has decreased. If your goal was to get more exercise, pay attention to your increased level of energy or better sleeping habits. Noting these additional perks will help you stay on track.
Ask for help if you need it. If you're finding it difficult to make changes on your own or you're starting to lose focus, seek professional assistance – whether that be from a personal trainer or your doctor. They can help you take the right steps towards meeting your goal.
If at first you don’t succeed…try, try again. There is a lot to be said for this old adage and it might in fact be the biggest key to success for many people. Change is a process and takes time and effort. Just because you missed a few workouts or ate the rest of the leftover Christmas cookies doesn’t mean all is lost. Cut yourself some slack, remember that you are human (and therefore not perfect) and get back on track. There is no rule that says you must quit if you slip up – quitting is a decision you make on your own.