The time of year has come when we start to think about New Year’s resolutions. I have woken from the New Year’s Eve festivities for many years tired, but with good intentions. I truly believe that I will lose a little weight, I will exercise more, I will spend more time with family and friends and I’m always certain this will be the year I will manage stress better. By mid-January, I have typically forgotten what my resolutions are—and I am reaching for a glass of wine and a piece of chocolate to manage stress levels.
I am not alone. Studies show that only 8% of people actually keep their New Year’s resolutions1. With this disappointing statistic, it’s worth considering a new approach to increase our success in reaching our goals. Research has been done on “implementation intentions,” a strategy that has proven to be successful in helping people meet goals2. It takes more than a raising a glass of champagne at midnight and announcing to the family that this is the year you will run a half marathon (or that your family will run a 5K together). This method requires writing down not just the goal, but the when, where and how you are going to achieve it.
We all deal with the challenges of time management; it is one of the most common reasons why people do not exercise. Setting a goal is not enough. Writing down the when, where and how is necessary. Consider changing your resolution from “my goal is to exercise more” to “I have signed up for the 6am Pilates class on Monday and Wednesday, am scheduled to run at 5pm on Tuesday and Thursday and signed up for Saturday 8am boot camp.” Consider changing “I will run my first 5K in the spring” to “I have joined a local running group that meets 2 times per week, and I am scheduled to run Saturdays at 9am.”
This year, I propose our 2015 New Year’s resolutions do not revolve around setting goals about better relationships, saving money, weight loss or exercising more. Instead, I encourage you to focus on planning and scheduling. It doesn’t sound as exciting as the resolutions so often heard at the strike of midnight, but it increases your chance for success to be much better than just 8%.
This New Year, I will take out my smart phone and begin by scheduling when I will run and the type of run I will do. I will schedule time specifically devoted to my children, my husband, my friends and which activities we will do. I will schedule the days I can eat dessert (and I will schedule the days that I will not have a glass of wine!). By scheduling and planning for success this New Year, I will be able to stay on pace.
Michelle Collie PT, DPT, MS, OCS is a Physical Therapist, the owner and CEO of Performance Physical Therapy. She lives on the East Side of Providence with her husband and 2 children. She can be reached at [email protected]