Meanwhile, have you asked yourself the biggest, most important question about those resolutions yet—how do you plan to keep them?
What? You don’t have a plan? Uh-oh. That means this year will be just like every other year: You’ll make one or more major promises to yourself, head into the new year with firm resolve, and by the end of January, it will have dwindled away and life will go back to normal—except for the blow to your self esteem because you couldn’t keep an important promise you made to yourself.
“Making a resolution means nothing,” says Rob Clayton, headmaster of the Winter School in Park City, the summer school attended by elite winter athletes, such as bobsledder Steve Holcomb and ski racer Ted Ligety, both Olympic gold medalists. Clayton, a former ski racing coach, adds, “Even though you’ve got to have a resolution, it doesn’t mean anything, because what counts are all of the steps you put in place to reach it.”
In other words, don’t even think that because you actually hit the gym on Jan. 1, life will change. That’s like thinking you’re going to run a marathon without any preparation. You must work up to the keeping of a resolution; otherwise, you’re setting yourself up to fail.
Clayton says to start by determining the end result. “What do you want to get? What is the end result going to be? What is the final form, or is there one? Is the resolution going to be for one month, for three months, for eternity?”
Make your resolution detailed, not vague. Are you vowing to get in shape? If so, ask yourself: in shape for what? If all you have in mind is an image of some celebrity or athlete’s body, that’s not a resolution; it’s a daydream. So start with realistic details: Do you want to be stronger, or just skinnier, or more physically prepared for a certain sport? Then figure out how you’re going to do it. Can you work on it three days a week? What time do you plan to do the work?
That, of course, is the secret: having a plan. Your plan will allow you to set achievable goals. “Setting and reaching daily goals will lead you to your ultimate goal, which is what a plan is,” Clayton says. “The other part of keeping resolutions is writing them down. What have you written down? That’s probably the hardest thing for anybody to do—figure out the details.
Finding the details and recording them, and then meeting all the requirements you’ve set out for yourself is the routine that will let you reach your final goal. It’s all about the plan and the discipline and the routine leading up to the end result.”
If your resolution is to lose weight, then work out a plan for self-discipline. How do you intend to now resist that candy jar where you always grab a few pieces of chocolate? If you resist once, will you make the common mistake of “rewarding” yourself by taking some next time?
How will you resist temptation? Rather than relying on willpower alone, it might be best to plan a routine—like getting a drink of water every time you feel tempted to indulge in a high-calorie snack.
Don’t just wander into your resolution and hope for the best. Plan for everything—what to do if you miss a workout or give in to an urge for onion rings; what your resistance plan will be; what techniques you’ll use to restore your motivation when it starts to fade. Have your plan in place, and fill it with all the necessary details. Then you can start off the new year knowing that this year, your resolutions will be kept.