New Year’s Resolutions – in June?
As we ushered in the month of June, Alicia and I thought it was the perfect time to check in with each other about just how we were doing on our New Year’s Resolutions. It’s one thing to make grand proclamations about what you’ll accomplish when you’re wielding a glass of champagne and quite another to actually do the hard work to achieve your goals. While neither of us had given up on our resolutions, we both agreed we could use a kick-in-the-pants to make sure we either got back on track or made better progress.
Have you been eating more vegetables, calling your mother more than once a week, and/or cleaning out the basement? If you’re not, it’s ok. You still have half of the year left to reboot and recharge. Here are some quick tips to help you get back on track.
#1: Establish a Sunday Night Power (Half) Hour
You can set yourself up to succeed by simply setting aside a half-hour to an hour on Sunday evenings and, rather than vegging out in front of the tube, use that time to map out the key steps you need to take to achieve your goals in the coming week. There are three basic steps to this ritual. The first is to remind yourself of your key goals and, more importantly, why attaining them is so important to you. Write that down once on an index card and then refer to it in the weeks to come. Step two is to look back on your previous week and pat yourself on the back for any progress you made towards your goal (big or small). Recognizing your small successes is incredibly important because it keeps you motivated to continue on your path. Finally, step three is look ahead at the week to come and map out what you need to do and when. If your goal is to lose weight, schedule in your workouts and even think ahead to what kind of workouts you want to do. If your goal is to save money, make sure your meal plan is in place for the week.
#2: Inspire Yourself with a Pinboard
Sometimes there is nothing like a little visual cue or two to get or keep you inspired. It’s not very hard to put your own together quickly. Use a small 5 x 7” paper photo album to display the images you’ve selected, I love the Kolo line’s Vineyard one. Use one per goal, or one goal per page, whatever works for you. Alternatively, keep a virtual board. Change the wallpaper on your computer to an image that inspires you to stick with it, or create your very own pinboard (or three) on Pinterest.com so that you have drool-worthy images related to your goal to turn to in moments of weakness. The service is still so new, it’s in Beta and you need an invitation. Friend Buttoned Up on Facebook at Facebook.com/getbuttonedup and then post “Invite me to Pinterest!” on our wall and we’ll get you squared away.
#3: Create Some If-Then Statements
Researchers on the cutting edge of psychology have discovered that the simple act of creating a few if-then statements make a dramatic difference in your ability to stick to a plan and make lasting changes. That makes sense to us as we have long touted the benefits of planning for failure because, well, nobody’s perfect! Developing a set of actions that will help you stave off the siren calls is just good planning. A sample if-then statement might look like this: “If I go out to eat Thursday, then I will order the Asian salad.” Repeat that to yourself frequently, and when you end up staring at a menu in a restaurant Thursday night, you’ll reflexively order the low calorie salad you really wanted to and stave off the temptation to order the cheesy nachos.
#4: Focus on One at a Time
A lot of people get ambitious on December 31st and come up with a laundry list of things they’d like to change. That’s all well and good, but your chances of success will go up if you focus on one at a time. Especially given the hectic pace of life today, there is only so much mental and physical bandwidth to go around. So if you have more than one on your list, choose one to focus on this month, another to focus on next month, and so on.
#5: Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is
You might just be amazed at the motivating power of putting cold, hard cash on the line. Behavioral economists have studied human behavior and know that we will work harder to keep from losing something than we will to gain something. In that spirit, two economists started a company called StickK.com, which lets you take a contract out on yourself. You pony up real money in a wager you’ll accomplish x,y, or z. If you don’t your money will be donated, get this, to a charity or organization you HATE. Trust us, you’ll work hard to ensure your hard-earned cash doesn’t fall into the hands of “bad guys.”