The holidays were great, but am I the only one who is more than a little relieved that they are over?
In two separate ceremonial acts yesterday, I:
1. picked up the last scrap of wrapping paper (I think) from my floor
2. opened up my brand spanking new planner
I love love love the feeling of hope and promise that comes with starting a new planner each year. This year, I got a fancypants one in a pretty box, and I ordered some color-coded pens to categorize my tasks (realistically, that'll last about 2 days, but it's fun for now).
For once, I also filled in the goals page at the beginning of the planner!
I've been thinking about goals quite a bit lately. I recently started working as a PRN (which is just medical speak for substitute) dietitian at three local hospitals. I mostly see inpatients in this role, but I occasionally see outpatients.
My outpatients, especially, have been asking a lot about resolutions in the past few weeks. I also had the opportunity to share my thoughts on goals and resolutions on the radio last week.
One of the questions I've gotten a lot (including in my interview) is what kinds of mistakes people make when setting resolutions. I think this is a very good question, because of the 45% of Americans who usually make resolutions, only 8% achieve their resolution each year.
So where do people go wrong with their resolutions (or at least, their nutrition resolutions)?
In my opinion, the biggest success-killer is an all-or-nothing mentality. Friends, most of us simply try to do too much when setting goals for healthy living. And then what happens? We get frustrated or bored with our resolution, and we revolt.
Have you ever decided you were going to use New Year's as an opportunity to completely overhaul your diet? Have you ever resolved to lose 40 pounds in a month, or to quit chocolate cold turkey? Have you ever had one minor slip from your meal plan and decided you were going to just get back on the wagon tomorrow/after the weekend/after the holidays? And how successful are you, typically, at getting back on that wagon?
Self-help author (and St. Louis native--yay!) Robert Collier famously said, "Success is the sum of small efforts, repeated day in and day out."
SMALL EFFORTS, REPEATED DAY IN AND DAY OUT, PEOPLE!
Resolving to eat completely "clean" is not a small effort. Going cold turkey on a specific food or an entire food group is not a small effort. Losing a bajillion pounds between January and Spring Break is most certainly not a small effort.
Let's say you are an ambitious person. How can you make meaningful change without setting yourself up for failure?
Focus on specific behaviors and habits, and make changes that you can stick with every single day.
Want to clean up your diet? Awesome! How, exactly, are you going to do that so it doesn't make you crazy? Do you hit the office candy jar 3 times per day? Maybe you replace two of those visits with a couple of grapes. Do you have a significant amount of weight to lose? Maybe you start by tracking your intake every day.
Small efforts, repeated day in and day out. Once you master one small effort, add a second one! Success begets success (could I throw in another cliche tonight? I'll stop, I promise).
But what happens if you are not successful?
Forgive yourself and get right back on track. Say you eat a large helping of Holidrizzle when you're not even hungry. RESIST THE URGE to eat the rest of the bag to get it out of the house (yep, I've done it)! Put it away (heck, throw it away!) and get right back on track with your healthy habit.
And what if you start habitually attacking the Holidrizzle when you've resolved to clean up your diet?
Maybe you need to reevaluate your goal. Perhaps it's just not the right goal for you right now. This is not to say you can't revisit it later! Try a different goal, and see how you do with it. Find one that you can stick with every day, that doesn't make you miserable.
Because, really, isn't the point of goal-setting to be more healthy and happy?
Speaking of that, happy and healthy New Year, friends!