People participating in a Step exercise class

The new year is just around the corner and with it comes the promise of a fresh start. If you are like most Americans, you’ve probably made at least one new year’s resolution or have started thinking about what you want to make as your resolutions. Thinking of the resolutions is the easy part, but implementing those changes successfully into your routine can be a lot more challenging. Four out of five people who make new year’s resolutions will break them by the end of January. So how do you make resolutions that you can actually stick to?

BE SPECIFIC

The top resolutions that people made in 2020 were to lose weight, eat healthier/exercise more, save money, and pay off debt. The problem with these goals is that they are extremely vague and don’t have any concrete ways to measure success. How much weight do you want to lose? What amount of money do you want in your savings by the end of the year? What defines “eating healthier”? The key to making resolutions that you can actually stick with is to get specific with exactly what you want to achieve.

Try using the SMART goal method, which involves making a goal that is:

  • Specific – Do you want to lose weight in order to feel good about yourself by your vacation in June? Or have enough in savings to be able to buy a new car? Get specific about what you hope to actually achieve with these goals.
  • Measurable – Measure your goals by a concrete number, such as lose 20 pounds, get $5000 in savings, only eat out two times a week.
  • Achievable – Do you have the resources to actually achieve this goal? You want to make sure that your goals are a challenge, but defined well enough that you can actually achieve them.
  • Realistic – Make sure your goals are realistic. You’re probably not going to be able to stick to making every single meal at home or exercising every day at 5 am. Making unreasonable goals is just setting yourself up for failure.
  • Time-bound – This goes back making measurable goals. Give yourself a deadline that you can work towards, such as losing those 20 pounds by June or having your savings account where you want it to be by the end of the year.

BREAK IT UP

Making a lofty goal can be overwhelming and often deter people from wanting to start on the goal at all. Make it easier for yourself by breaking it down into smaller, more manageable goals. Your overall goal may be to lose a certain amount of weight but look at it as getting healthier overall.

How do you start that? Joining a gym, such as the YMCA, would be an easy first step. From there, you can set other goals, such as going to two group fitness classes per week. Saving a large amount of money may seem impossible with your current financial situation, but if you start by just putting away $10 per week, it makes it a much more reasonable change. Once you’ve achieved your first small goal, make more little goals to keep hitting and soon, you’ll be on your way to conquering your overall resolution!

WRITE IT DOWN

Writing your resolutions down makes them a lot more concrete and real than just saying them. So, write it down and put them somewhere that you’ll see them often! Make a graphic with your resolutions and save it as your lock screen on your phone. Or write them down in your planner each week to remind yourself of what you’re working towards. Having your resolutions materialized somewhere instead of just in the back of your mind will help you remember that these are real goals that you pledged to achieve and make them easier to stick to.

ENLIST SUPPORT

You don’t have to go through this big change all by yourself. There are many ways you can build yourself a support system to help keep you on track with your goals. Tell your family about your money-saving goals so that they are conscious about why you are making certain decisions, you can even make it a family resolution! Find a gym buddy that helps hold you accountable when it seems extra hard to get out of bed and go to the gym. You can even enlist professional help, such as a financial advisor to help you get strategic in saving your money, or a personal trainer to build an exercise plan and help you achieve your goals- every step of the way.

Sticking to a new year’s resolution doesn’t have to be a difficult and stressful experience. Make it specific and break it down to smaller goals to allow yourself an easy path to achieve it. The YMCA of Lincoln is here to support you in all your new year’s resolutions through our health and wellness programs available to all members. Let the Y help you on your journey to healthier and happier living in 2021.