Around the Island

Enjoyable resolutions

The future you is here!

And if you’re like many of us, you’ve rolled your eyes because those 50 pounds are still there. With that, you’ve wondered whether it’s even worth making another resolution this year.

Like me, you may have changed the word “resolution” to “lifestyle changes” in hopes of making it stick, yet negative memories of my own attempts still come to mind.

I once resolved to attend spin classes. It looked like fun. There I was, in class, in January, in the front row, when the instructor made the side-comment that there will be room in the class by February. As factual as that was (that was my last class), how we think about our resolutions can make all the difference.

Allow me to read your thoughts for a moment (I really can’t, it’s pure research). You attempted a new lifestyle and your last resolve ended in May.

Well, kudos! That is really tops. No shame in that game. Sure, the year has 12 months, and you made a 365-day plan that caved by Memorial Day. But think of it, had you not resolved to have a healthy lifestyle, you wouldn’t have benefited from your five-month attempt.

So with this new mindset, let’s resolve to setting “S.M.A.R.T.” goals.

Ask yourself: “Self, how long was my last trial at a resolution? What happened when I failed?” If you answered, “One day and then pizza happened,” you have friends, and I’m here to give you two ways to re-frame your brain around that attempt. But first, let’s set some goals.

Setting S.M.A.R.T. goals simply means choosing to accomplish something that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. Unfortunately, specific goals are often lost in wishes like, “I want to exercise this year so I’ll be fit,” or “I want to eat better so I’ll be healthier.”  These are great starts on your vision board, but being specific will allow you to choose how you’ll accomplish this goal.

For instance, instead of saying “I will exercise,” you may choose a goal of, “I will walk a mile.” Or instead of saying, “I will eat healthier,” you may choose a goal of, “I will drink warm lemon water.” Now, you have a specific task that fits into your vision.

Making your goal measurable is the next step. Saying, “I will walk a mile every Sunday,” or “I will drink warm lemon water every morning,” gives you the ability to mathematically track your progress. Then, instead of giving up because you missed a week of attempts, you can pat yourself on the back for being 75% effective in January.  

Be sure to be realistic with your goals. Just because something is important to do, doesn’t mean that it must be done, or that you will even do it.

You can make incremental steps towards it. For instance, exercise has proven its importance; however, if you haven’t walked a mile in ages, you may need to take incremental steps. So, map out a route, drive around it, and then choose a portion of it to accomplish.

The act of lacing up and winning the mental battle against yourself will be victory enough on many days, so be kind to your success efforts and make your goals something you can initially accomplish comfortably.

While walking a mile each Sunday may be a great start for many, if it’s not meaningful to you, your chances of persisting on tough days will be slim. Having a goal that has relevance to your life will provide you with the necessary motivation you’ll need.

Find your “Why?” Why did you pick walking? For me, I picked it because I learned it as a toddler, and it has proven pretty useful.

Finally, set a cut-off time. If your last year-long resolution managed to make it by March Madness, set that as your benchmark. Then aim to crush it. This time, feel like one who overcomes. 

Then try crushing it again, and again and again! With every new try being “gravy,” as they say, because you have already had the “meat” of crushing it back in February.

Here are the two ways to re-frame your brain. First, make your S.M.A.R.T. goals enjoyable. Lose the mental baggage of how it should be done. Secondly, make it fit your personality. If you’re one to avoid people and you hate to exercise but still feel the desire to get fit, then don’t exercise and definitely don’t exercise with people. Go for joy in the process. Try gardening, dancing, swimming, hiking, strolling or pole dancing.

We develop bad habits because they are enjoyable. Use enjoyment for something good. Think that’s crazy talk? It’s true. A study, published in Psychology Today on the psychology of resolutions, concluded that contrary to popular belief, only enjoyment predicted long-term persistence. It did not matter how important your goal was. Instead, what really mattered was how much pleasure you received from your initial efforts.

Mary Poppins was onto something when she said, “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” So while you’re at it, jazz up that spirulina smoothie and make January enjoyable.