January 1, 2011. I awoke to thick fog this morning, and very mild temperatures. It is going to be a glorious Saturday! It is the dawn of a new year, with all the promise ahead of us, to make this year what we want it to be.
It is also time for our annual resolutions.
Resolutions are important, but only if we don't turn them into empty promises to ourselves. Like any goal, there are certain steps I take to ensure I maximize my chances of achieving them. The most important?
A lot of people will automatically say that resolutions must be realistic, and that is certainly very important and an essential basic requirement too, but the most important is actually to be sure the resolution is something I truly desire.
I think a lot of people toss out resolutions that "sound good," but there is really no internal motivation to succeed at them. Resolutions aren't just a "wish list" of our perfect vision for ourselves, or something we do because others expect it of us.
For me to make progress and actually succeed at my goals, I give them some serious thought beforehand. Do I really WANT this? Why? How important is this to me? Is there something more important I want to be focusing on?
Ah, yes ... prioritization. That is also important to ensuring I maximize my chances of achieving my goals.
I prioritize my resolutions, when I make more than one, as I often do. I want to keep my focus on those most important goals, so I limit how many I set, working on the most important ones. Note, when I ask myself these questions, I don't think "is there something more important I should be focusing on" - resolutions have to be something I actually desire, not "should" desire.
And lastly, I try to make my resolutions about the process, not the final product. Making them about a process is what actually leads to sustainable changes, which allows me to reach my ultimate goals. So, instead of saying, "I want to improve my health in 2011" or "I want to reach goal weight"- which are goals, certainly, a few of my resolutions will be all about the processes that can make this happen.
My 2011 Resolutions:
1. Establish a weekly exercise habit
2. Routinely monitor daily caloric intake
3. Call my brother every month
Establishing a routine exercise habit is not an easy thing for me. Actually, that is a gross understatement. And it is my first, and most important, goal for this year. It is a process that will lead to improved fitness and general health and well-being. And it will help me improve my measurements too. Sitting on the couch, wishing I could be more active, doesn't actually get me anywhere. I have to make it a priority, and do something about it, so 2011 is the year I am going to do that.
Monitoring caloric intake, I've learned, actually DOES make a difference. And I need to do this routinely, to keep moving in the direction I want to be heading in my weight loss efforts. Ultimately, I can achieve my goal weight (145 lbs) by doing this. Before Allan's challenge series, I didn't give it much thought. Actually, I thought it sounded like a big pain in the neck. And, at first, it was - though not nearly as daunting as I anticipated. Now? I need to make this part of my routine, not just something I do for a challenge. Challenges come to an end, eventually (I think) hehehe ... and this is a behavior I've learned is actually vital to my own success. So, this learned behavior needs to be moved to the routine habit category, and stay there, always.
Calling my brother every month is just good for my overall health! Talking to him is so much fun, and we enjoy each other's company a great deal. Our routines (and being located in different parts of the country) don't always allow us to connect as often as we'd like. Four times a year, to recharge with those we love, is not often enough. So, in 2011, I'm calling him every month. It is good to hear his voice, and we laugh a great deal, and you can't put a price on that. Life is just too short.
Note, my resolutions each have a time component to them. Weekly, daily, monthly - these clearly define timeframes, which help me move forward in progress. They are attainable, maintainable, and realistic. And not one of them expects results instantly. Change of behaviors and habits is a gradual process. Creating an improved person takes time. But, I should be able to measure progress as I go, and continually show movement toward my resolution goals. Being realistic and understanding the gradual nature of establishing new habits, in particular, prevents me from feeling discouraged. Just like weight loss, it will have its ups and downs, but staying focused and committed will - ultimately - help me achieve my resolutions in 2011, and all the fringe benefits that come with that.
My resolutions are also not too vague. Saying "I want to make better choices" is already built into these more specific resolutions. It I make them too vague, it is a set up for failure. Resolutions need to be targeted with measureable and attainable results.
I will continue to set other goals throughout the year, but the resolutions reign supreme.
But, Ann, don't you want to reach goal weight in 2011?!
YES, of course I do (and I expect to), but that isn't a long-term goal by itself. Maintaining it, now there's a goal! And what helps me do that? See resolutions 1 & 2.
I use resolutions to establish long-term forever type of improvements, that benefit me as a person in some manner. I'll use interim goals (not resolutions) to reach other targets - like my goal weight. My goal weight, by the way, is 100 lbs away. Setting a resolution for so seemingly big a task is to set myself up to be discouraged. It is one of the reasons I keep the big picture in mind, but I only (ever) focus on my mini-goals.
Being successful takes a little thought and planning, not super-human efforts and unpleasant sacrifices. Setting goals and resolutions that are too big, or too vague, will only lead me to lackluster results.
How does a person keep up motivation? Simple. I have to want what I am aiming for, and be realistic in my approach, plan well, prioritize, and make it about the process - not the ultimate destination.
The ultimate destination, as it turns out, takes care of itself, if I take care of the rest.
Happy New Year, Everyone!