New Year’s resolutions – they’re the annual ritual of racking your brain to come up with the perfect, attainable goal that will make you a better person. They also represent the annual cycle of contemplation, excitement, early success and often, failure.
Over the years I’ve struggled to come up with a “good” resolution – one that I’ll stick with after the early part of January when I’m tired of the overcrowded gym and avoiding desserts. Like most people, I have given up on almost every New Year’s resolution that I made, until this year.
To explain how I succeeded with my 2018 resolution, let’s back up to mid-2017. I was working full time, raising a young family and volunteering, and I found I’d taken on more stress than my body could reasonably handle. I sought out exercise, specifically yoga, to calm my brain and lower my stress levels. I did not start with a specific goal in mind, other than to avoid negative ways of coping (I do enjoy wine). As a financial planner, I am a tracker of things and was thrilled to be able to keep track of my yoga sessions in a colorful bullet journal. By November I realized I could finish the year with 100 workouts under my belt by New Year’s Eve. I did my 100th workout before I went out to celebrate the year. It had become a lifestyle.
That accomplishment was a turning point for me, and I decided to up the ante in 2018. I increased my workouts by 50% to 150. Simple math said I would need three workouts a week to get it done. I sought the help of a longtime friend and fitness coach and joined her fitness group. The group tracks workouts, eating, sleeping and water consumption in a fitness app. We celebrate the great work and push each other to do better. More importantly, I trust the group, knowing they’ll hold me accountable if I start to fall back into my old habits. Occasionally, I even post my journal pages on Facebook or Instagram and support others doing the same. It feels amazing to be a part of such a supportive group.
Earlier this month I surpassed the 200-workout mark for the year. I surprised myself and have set my sights on my 2019 New Year’s resolution. I’m not 100% sure what that will be yet, but I do know it needs to include a few things. It has to be a specific activity that’s trackable and measurable, and most importantly, it must be meaningful. And, I’ll choose an accountability partner to keep me motivated and on track.
Here’s my takeaway. You start with a small goal and accomplish it by making it part of your life – a habit. You learn how to make it possible by finding groups of people who are like-minded and encourage you. You also find an activity you don’t dread. Even when you’d rather drink wine and eat cheese, you do your downward dog, and afterwards, feel like you accomplished something.
Your resolution may be to spend more time with family, spend less time looking at screens, take monthly trips, volunteer, finish that degree, eat healthier or get outside. Whatever it is, spend time cleaning out old habits that no longer serve you and finding new behaviors that fuel you to be your best self. Here’s to a happy, healthy and prosperous 2019!