Starting the New Year Off Right: Set Achievable Goals

As 2015 is upon us, many folks take the time to set new years resolutions. How many times have you or someone you know set a resolution and then failed to achieve it?  A common error people make is to declare a resolution that is too lofty. For example, I recently heard someone say “I am going to exercise every day this year”.  Is this really a realistic approach? First of all, exercising everyday is not a good way to stay healthy.  Dont get me wrong I am not advocating that people sit around inside each day.  Getting some physical movement each and every day is vital for good health and longevity. But hitting the gym everyday will wear your muscles, tendons, and overall body out quickly.  Then before you know it your brand new resolution has been broken.


Another resolution I heard this season, was “I’m going to give up ice cream this year”.  While eating ice cream in a frequent routine isn't a stellar choice for health, quitting something cold turkey rarely works.  If ice cream is something you enjoy don't swear it off.  Life is about enjoying the simple pleasures. Denying yourself something that has been a part of your life can quickly lead to anxiety and constant thoughts of cheating.  More often than not this will lead to you throwing your hands up and grabbing a spoon.  Next thing you know you will hear the sound of stainless steel on cardboard and your stomach will be bulging.  


While these above examples are just that, examples they can serve as a nice reference point for setting achievable goals.  In our first example, going to the gym everyday, lets set a more reasonable goal.  For starters, set a goal of going to the gym twice a week for a month.  That shakes out to 8-10 session. I recommend using the total visits and count down from there.   Or be vigilant that you hit your two visits per week, it doesn’t matter.  Which ever method appeals to you is the one you should choose.  After that first month, take a moment and evaluate your progress.  If you hit your goal, great!  Build on it, you are on your way. But be careful not to bite off more than you can chew or you will be right back at square one.  If you struggle to hit your goal re-adjust the other way.  Evaluate your shortcomings and attack them using a technique that works with your style. By making your gym commitment a work in progress it will be on your mind weekly, if not daily.  After a while, heading to the gym will become part of your routine without a second thought.  


Now for our ice cream enthusiasts.  If you are someone who likes a food, that isn’t a higher rank on the list of health benefits, have no fear there is a way.  As I mentioned above, quitting cold turkey rarely pays dividends.  Instead ween yourself down from your habit to a reasonable amount.  First off, I suggestion finding a substitute item. Perhaps a frozen yogurt or a soy ice cream.  Eat this substitute item in place of ice cream lets say every third time you have the craving. While frozen yogurt cannot compete with ice cream in tastes, you will find it will help fight that craving for frozen deliciousness.  Gradually increase the instances between ice cream and substitute treat.  After that first month, evaluate!  Just like the gym example, adjust up or down to maintain a rationale goal.  


If you are looking to make a change in your life for good don't’ shoot for the moon right away. I cannot stress it enough.   Keep those goals small and build on them through the week, month, year, and decade.  If you stay vigilant and on top of yourself and progress at your rate you will be on your way to lasting change in no time!