It’s almost become clichéd at this point to discuss New Year’s resolutions, especially when it comes to health and wellness. Everyone wants to eat better, everyone wants to exercise more. The problem, of course, is sustainability. Everyone knows that at this point; most people are aware of the fact that many January 1 life-changes will fizzle out within a few weeks.
That’s why I propose rethinking that New Year’s resolution. Instead of thinking about a resolution relative to the new year, think about monthly resolutions. Think about betterment in increments, and for shorter time periods. Set different goals each month, beginning on the first of each month and lasting until the calendar is flipped. Then set a new goal for the next month, and see if you can keep any of the previous 30-day changes around when you move forward.
Many writers on this site and others have discussed ways to make those resolutions more achievable. People say to track your results, put tangible achievements on your goals and to make small life-changes rather than impossibly dramatic changes. Combine these ideas with the concept of a monthly reform. Instead of saying I am going to exercise more, say to yourself that you want to exercise 20 times in the month of January. Instead of saying that you want to eat better, say that you want to avoid fried food for 31 days. And rather that limiting oneself to the New Year for resolutions, consider taking on a new challenge at the start of February, March and April in addition to those taking effect on January 1.
For 2013, I set the goal to work out 350 times over the course of the year. I didn’t quite make it, as one would imagine, as the goal was both too ambitious and too long-term. Instead, I am going to say that I want to take no more than one day off from exercise each week for January 2014. I am going to combine this with a conservative dietary goal: I want to avoid fried foods for the month.
For February, I am going to run 120 miles over the course of the month – or roughly 30 miles a week, which, though ambitious, is not impossible. In March, it’s going to be 30 burpees every day for 30 days and a goal to avoid gluttony during March Madness (an annual vice).
Make the resolutions your own – set realistic goals and put the bar at an achievable level. Avoid discouragement with periodic benchmarks for achievement. Maybe it would be beneficial to set an end-of-the-month achievement, like a 5k race or a goal to complete 10 pull-ups. Look beyond the reading on a scale and think about a more holistic approach to improving yourself over the course of a year.
Instead of thinking about your goals all at once to take effect at the start of the New Year, think about what changes you want to make over the course of the year and take them on incrementally. Maybe this approach won't help you stick to your resolutions, but maybe it will. If nothing else, it's worth a shot, right?
Published On: December 18, 2013