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More than 40% of Americans make New Year’s resolutions come January 1st, but a 2015 study by the University of Scranton shows that just 8% of those people stick to their promise–to eat healthier, to quit smoking, to save more, and to take up running. Here’s how to be in that smaller percentile and kick off 2017 on the right foot–and with the right plan.
1. Make it MeaningfulSo maybe a faster 5K time isn’t extraordinary to everyone, but it is to you-and that makes it a meaningful resolution. When first setting your goals, ensure you find something that ignites that passion in you, whether it’s running one mile, participating in your first Tough Mudder or even qualifying for and attending World’s Toughest Mudder. In order to stick to your goal, even when you don’t feel like waking up and working out at 6 a.m., you need to feel that your goal is worth it–and worth the sacrifices.
2. Be SpecificHave you ever been told to be more specific? In terms of goal setting, there’s a reason you need to be able to clearly articulate what you want to accomplish. Having vague desires, like “losing weight” or “getting fit” won’t help you accomplish your goals. Rather, you need to be able to pinpoint precisely how much weight you want to use, how many pull-ups you want to be able to hit, or what Tough Mudder you plan on participating in. Be specific, be specific, be specific.
3. Team UpThe benefits of training with a friend are numerous: from accountability to companionship, a friend to talk to on a long trail run or post-strength workout can make all the difference between getting it done or staying home to sleep. Find a friend who is equally dedicated to a common goal and keep each other accountable to holding your promises. Another way to keep yourself in check is to publicize your goal. Post about it on Facebook or Instagram, or tell your friends and family about your goal. When you’re sitting on the couch, dreading that 5-mile run in the snow, knowing that everyone from your grandmother in Alabama to your ex-boss is expecting you to succeed can provide that extra push to throw on your running shoes and get outside regardless.
4. Put in on the Calendar
You wouldn’t expect to go from a 24-minute 5K down to a sub-20 minute 5K simply by wishing; instead, you’d come up with a plan, a training schedule, and a way of tracking progress over several weeks and months. The same needs to be done with your New Year’s resolutions. Break your goal into smaller, accomplishable goals. For example, if your goal is to eat better, try cutting out sugary beverages while maintaining your otherwise normal diet. The next week, cut out sugary beverages and desserts. Continue adding on to this, challenging yourself a little more each week, until you’ve reached your goal.
5. Don’t Be Black and White
There’s a grey perspective that few people are willing to see, but those that do often have the most success with their goals. This is because the all-or-nothing approach rarely works and is generally unattainable for weeks and months at a time. Expect yourself to slip up now and then. Didn’t get in that long run you said you would? Ate too much cake at your friend’s birthday party? Don’t sacrifice all of the work you've done leading up to that point by eating three more slices of cake, just because. Expect to mess up now and again. What separates the quitters from the continuers is preparation. Know how to give yourself a break–and then jump right back into it the next meal, or the next day.
If you’ve made it past the three week mark, you’ve done better than most people who make resolutions. Celebrate the little successes by treating yourself to a nice dinner, going for a leisurely walk, or having a cup of coffee with a friend and sharing your experience about keeping your New Year’s resolutions. Then, as always, keep going.
7. Don’t Set a GoalWhat a minute–isn’t this article about how to keep a goal? It is, for most. But not everyone is suited to maintaining, or even starting, New Year’s goals. Some do better at evaluating their fitness every few months, readjusting their goals as needed. Others look at their goals on a 5-year basis, re-evaluating their schedules and racing plans as life happens. Don’t be a part of the 92% of people that give up on their New Year’s goals if annual goal setting isn’t for you. Instead, look to track your progress through your workouts, your races, and how much enjoyment you’re getting out of living the Tough Mudder lifestyle.