To Make a Resolution or Not... That is the Question!

Recently, I have seen people declare their "intentions" in lieu of making a new year's "resolution." A kinder, gentler, don't feel super bad if you don't follow through version of a personal desire for change. Sure - to "intend" is to 'plan for a particular objective' - sounds fine, but to "resolve" is 'to decide firmly on a course of action.' I'm putting my money on making that firm contract with myself; unwavering, with no latitude. In other words, a resolution. Is this to say you must be perfect at meeting your goal? No. But should you be consistently aiming for that resolution and taking steps to make it happen? Definitely!

What is it that you want for yourself in the new year? Can you pick 3 new habits that will bolster your health, your wealth, or your, happiness? There is a methodology for habit change. You start with a clear, meaningful vision, bring your natural strengths to the process, create attainable action steps, and follow through with strong accountability. I call the process “ATTITUDE, FORTITUDE, & NO LATITUDE.” (Read more about that here

But the first step is really drilling down on your desire for change.

Our brains are hard wired with habits, helpful or not helpful, that we’ve repeated for years. We call these neural pathways. They are like a deep track in hard packed snow. The good news is that we can make new pathways with healthier, better for us habits right next to the old ones. The challenge, however, is to be consistent. Your old pathways will always be deeper and more ingrained than the new ones. Therefore, you have to remain on guard – use awareness and resolve to make sure that you follow through with your new habits so that you don’t backslide into the existing neural tracks. And if you do… it’s okay! Each time you go back to your new habits you make those neural connections stronger and more durable.

As you make your resolutions keep the following in mind:

  • Slow and steady wins the habit change race. Baby steps not giant leaps will get you to the finish line. If you want to make exercise stick start with a manageable amount of time and days per week that you can absolutely handle, then slowly increase to your goal. As you’re progressing you can think of a multitude of ways to add movement into your life as a bonus (dancing in the kitchen anyone?)

  • It takes at least 3 months, and often, 6 months to make a habit. I don’t know who gave us this crazy notion that 21 days is all you need. Horse feathers! Keep your guard up, stay accountable, and keep moving forward. Some lucky winners will make their habit change become a natural part of their routine and can ultimately relax about it. More of us (umm…. me) need to keep our eye on the prize in perpetuity. It’s okay. It gets easier, it’s just not automatic.

  • Accountability, accountability, accountability. Can’t say it enough. And only YOU can decide what will work for you. Someone else’s idea of calendarizing might sound great, but if you don’t self-motivate or keep a calendar, this one isn’t for you. Perhaps you need to have an accountability partner (such as a friend, spouse, or even health coach) because you respond to external accountability. This is where it is important to know your strengths and your obstacles.

Remember: A good plan is worth its weight in gold – and will ultimately win you the gold medal!

Enough with the mixed metaphors! You get the picture. Be resolute! Know why you are looking to create a healthy habit, make a manageable plan, keep trying even if it gets hard, have an accountability system… and feel amazing when you reach your goals! Here’s to creating a happy and healthy new year for all.