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I have a lot of friends that are very jaded about New Year's resolutions. No one keeps them, they're too ambitious, it's silly. Honestly I think one reason folks don't like resolutions is that it's easier to be cynical than it is to change!
I agree, however, that many people are too ambitious in their goals. Someone who hasn't worked out in two years can't just start with a 40 minute workout on Jan 1 and expect it to last. So I've taken a different approach with my New Year's goals. Hearkening to Leo Babauta at Zenhabits.net, I've taken a habit-forming approach to developing a fitness routine.
Keep in mind my starting point - I am easily 45 pound heavier than my previous 'heaviest' weight, and haven't exercised much in the last year and a half. My diet is worse than it was two years ago for a variety of reasons, most of which are emotional. Here's my plan:
- January: Workout 10 minutes a day, first thing when I get up
- February: Workout 20 minutes a day, first thing when I get up
- March: Workout 30 minutes a day, first thing when I get up
- April: Workout 40 minutes a day, first thing when I get up
- May: Workout 40 minutes a day, first thing when I get up; eat one vegetarian meal per week
- June: Same as May, but also have one day a week when I don't eat sweets
- July - Dec: Maintain!
In just six months, if all goes well, I'll have totally revamped my physical body and diet. The reason I wait until May before hitting diet is twofold: First, I know that working out changes what I'm hungry for, so some of the diet will take care of itself. Second, when working on habits, you need to take one small step at a time, and so I waited until I had reached my workout goal before adding a food goal.
I really think that this is a much more level-headed approach to sustaining change than my usual 'Top 10 things I want to fix this year' and starting them all Jan 1. I won't make as many changes at a time, but the changes I DO make will be consequential and permanent. Doesn't that matter more than 10 failed resolutions?
Give it a shot this year - break one resolution down into step-by-step habit formation. Don't be surprised if that turns out to be the only habit that sticks!
What are your thoughts on resolutions? Do you set any? Are you willing to try forming a habit this year? Let me know in the comments!