Yeah, I know, another article about resolutions. I totally get it – every December I start thinking the impending storm of New Year’s resolutions, about how the concept can be tired, about how if you’re going to do something you should start now…and then January hits, and my outlook shifts. No matter how much I scoff internally, there’s something rooted in me that still sees the New Year as a time to refocus and reset, and it’s clear that the same can be said for a lot of others. Maybe it’s just a lifetime of psychological conditioning, but if it’s an excuse to reevaluate yourself and create a healthier, happier, more vibrant self, then I think it’s a good thing.
I always find myself looking back on where I was on January 1st of the previous year, how different I wound up on December 31st, how much progress was made in that time, and about how I can spend the next 365 days making more intentional progress.
Issues have arisen in the past because I found myself trying to do everything at once. In the past few years, however, I’ve learned how to zero in and start creating real results. Here are the biggest things I’ve discovered to keep yourself on track and attain your goals for the New Year.
5 Keys to Making Your Resolutions a Reality
1. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
If you try to make a goal for nutrition, a goal for sleep, a bunch of fitness goals, goals for organization, goals for personal development, so on and so forth, you spread yourself thin, and nothing winds up getting done. The solution is to isolate 2-3 of your weakest links and fix those first. Try picking one or two goals related to your health and fitness, and one related to other forms of personal development.
These weak links are going to be different for everyone. For me, I know that my nutrition and fitness are dialed in, but my sleep patterns are problematic. So, rather than trying to optimize already good things, I’m going to really focus on sleeping better this year. That doesn’t mean to start falling off the wagon in those other areas, it just means you’re going to put them into temporary “maintenance” mode.
2. Make your goals specific.
This has been said before, but it bears repeating: make your goals as specific as you can. Instead of saying, “I will eat better,” or “I’ll start lifting weights,” try things like “I will eat vegetables at every meal,” or “I’m going to do Starting Strength three times per week.” The less nebulous your goals, the more you’ll have to work with.
3. Create timelines and deadlines.
You have your goals set. Now, create a timeline to get there. At last year’s Health Entrepreneurs f(x), Craig Ballantyne said “the task expands to fit the time allotted for it.” If you don’t give yourself a (reasonable) deadline to achieve your goals, it’s really easy to wind up spinning your wheels indefinitely.
Start by determining one small first step you can take to get to your desired outcome. Then, determine the second step, and the third, and so on. You might be thinking big with your goals, but think small with your steps. Make every single one reasonable and achievable, even if that means extremely incremental progress. Think about how long each step is realistically going to take, and create a timeline that leads up to the finished product. The timeline might change over time depending on how life works out, but an imperfect plan is far better than no plan at all.
4. Make your work habitual.
At this point, it’s old hat to say that systems and habits trump motivation any day. The key to making your resolutions happen is having good systems and good habits in place. The timeline you’ve created is your system; a series of steps that lead to your desired outcome. In order to execute that system, you need to make your work a daily habit. Olympic gold medalist Dan Gable said it best: “If it’s important, do it every day. If it’s not, don’t do it at all.”
Now, there is a lot of work out there on habit formation, explained with more eloquence than I am capable of, but creating good habits boils down to a simple “if->then” system. Habit formation relies on a system of associating cues and actions. So, if you want to work on your goals every single day (you do), then associate those actions with things you already do daily. If you really need to work on your mobility, start by stretching for 10 minutes after you brush your teeth in the evening. Need to sleep better? Create a consistent screen bedtime after you eat dinner every night. When motivation falters, and it will, you have peace of mind that the habits you’ve created will keep you on track toward your goals.
5. Run your health like it’s your business.
The path to success is not a straight line. It has ups and downs, and you’ll have to flow with them. Give yourself a quarterly performance review. How are you doing? How close are you to your goals? What parts of your system have worked, and what parts haven’t? An honest assessment will show you where you need to invest, where you need to cut back, and help keep you on track to being a better you.
If you apply these principles, you’re sure to start achieving your goals and bettering yourself, piece by piece. When you’ve shored up your weaknesses and made them habitual, you can start devoting energy to other goals, knowing that you can fall back on those good habits you’ve established.
So, what are you going to do this year to make your life healthier? What are your strengths? What areas need improvement? Let us know in the comments, and let us know how Paleo f(x)™ can empower you to make it happen.