Planning for Success

If you’re one of the millions of people making a New Year’s Resolution about health and wellness, I have some advice: Take a few minutes today to think about what you need to be successful.

As with any goal, being specific and realistic are the first two qualities that will set you up for success.  I always suggest writing down a goal, as that will help you limit the scope.  While it’s easy to be filled with good intention and make pie-in-the-sky resolutions, keeping them simple makes them more likely to become a part of your lifestyle.

Next, do you have a way to measure your progress toward the goal?  If not, what do you need to do?  Can you make a daily checklist?  Keep a workout log?  Record your calories in/out on an online calculator such as SparkPeople or My Fitness Pal?  There are a lot of free tools available online– just search for what you want, and chances are someone else has already made it and put it on the internet for you to download and use.  No need to recreate the wheel!

How will you be held accountable for progress toward your goals?  If you have the discipline to change your behaviors with no outside influence, more power to you!  But if you’re like the vast majority of us who need some support when making changes, think about who and how you’d like that.  Do you need a personal trainer to develop workout plans and encourage regular exercise?  Do you need someone to help you with meal planning or grocery shopping?  Do you need your spouse or partner to (gently and lovingly) remind you that you’re going to do 10 minutes of exercise before flopping on the couch in the evening?  Both of the websites listed above also have message forums in which one can find an accountability partner.  Whatever method you choose, it’s best to be well-supported when making changes.

Finally, be realistic about the time it will take for your new habit to form.  A study from University College London indicates that most people need 66 days to form a new habit.  That means mid-March is a valid and likely target for many resolution-makers.

So before you think about sending 2012 out with a party, take a few minutes today to plan for a happy, healthy, well-balanced 2013.

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