Strategies to keep resolutions

Using tips that elite athletes do can help keep you on track

Here we are again having crossed over the threshold into another year and with it comes the ambitions for improving routines, addressing missed opportunities, and correcting wrongs of the previous year.

We all know the statistics by now that less than 10 per cent of people who make New Year’s resolutions are likely to succeed, and most resolutions are abandoned by the end of January.

So how do you best make, and keep, a commitment for change?

Some of these resolutions have involved unrealistic goals, poorly planned strategies or not enough will-power. It’s easy to say to someone, pick a worthy resolution, and stick with it, but how best to do it?

Apart from the helpful SMART guidelines (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) that most people are aware of, here are a few other approaches you can keep in mind if you want to make a resolution.

Focus on positive, rather than punitive messages and thoughts. That includes not beating yourself up for having small, momentary lapses.

And because we can be so hard on ourselves when we slip up, this can reinforce feelings of disappointment and failure resulting in apathy.

Even successful elite athletes have occasional lapses but they stay the course and persist with their routines and that’s why they have success.

As a matter of fact, when you think of it, the life of an athlete is filled with failure.

The object of much of training and practising is to try to perfect your skills and abilities, which means trial and error – a lot of failure and occasional successes.

If you view your goals the way athletes do you will also find that you need to become more patient and view things in a longer-term perspective. This does run counter to our normal daily, hustle-and-bustle lives where instant gratification is often expected.

Another approach is to prioritize and narrow the scope of your activities.

In reality we only have a limited amount of time and resources each day, but we often behave like we can do everything. Once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, and stop saying yes to everyone, then you can focus on one or two goals that are really important.

In recent psychology research they have found that less healthy people see their goal as too big or too far away for them to accomplish, and they get distracted more easily by the surrounding environment and situation.

By “keeping your eyes on the prize” (another athletic motivational phrase) one can more easily direct their attention to the goals they set.

And as you have some successes and get closer to your goal, the goal doesn’t seem so big anymore either.

If eating healthy is an ambition this year, there are a number of fantastic smart phone apps that help you keep track of healthy food choices and calories.

For many people this can be a tedious and difficult thing to do without a handy and helpful tool like a phone app. Many of these apps will also compute the calories you burn while exercising too.

And finally, as far as exercise goes, find activities that are enjoyable if you can.

There’s no way you will persist with an exercise that you don’t enjoy doing. If you find an enjoyable healthy routine and use tools that help you persist, you will find yourself closer to your goal and living a healthier life.

And don’t get side-tracked by which exercise will give you the quickest results. It’s not a sprint to next week or next month, it’s a lifestyle change that you can maintain for years to come.

 

Kerry Senchyna is the founder, owner and president of West Coast Kinesiology and is a provincially registered kinesiologist (BCAK).