Thursday, December 30, 2010

How to Make New Year's Resolutions

(I'm supposed to be on an Internet hiatus and a blogging break until the New Year, but I couldn't help sneaking in a post. Enjoy!)

If you've hung around The New Me for any length of time, then you know that goals and resolutions are my bread and butter. They keep me focused, motivated and centered, and I'm constantly setting weekly, monthly and yearly benchmarks for myself. Because of this mild obsession, there's always been something magical about New Year's. The excitement leading up to the big moment. The countdown at midnight. The champagne. And then waking up the next morning, hungover refreshed, motivated, and ready to have the best year of my life.

While the champagne toast as the clock strikes twelve is the climax of New Year's Eve, the real "reason for the season" is resolutions. A list of goals, ideas and intentions for the next twelve months. Everybody is making them and anything seems possible. So, how do you make resolutions that stick? Goals that will challenge you without setting you up for failure? I'm no expert on this, but I do have a lot of practice. Here's my system for making resolutions and my methods for helping them stick.

1. Choose a few general areas of your life that you want to improve. When I looked at my life, where I am and where I want to be, what is most important to me and what tasks I've been putting off for far too long, I came up with three areas. Therefore, this year, I'm seeking to improve my creative life, my health and my finances.

2. Think of three ways you can improve one of those areas. Let's use health as an example. Right now, I'm focused on training for the Houston Marathon on January 30th. My first priority is to successfully complete my training and then the actual race. Because I've been focusing on running the last few months, I haven't been weight training or cross training. I would like to do both those things and generally have a more well rounded fitness routine. I also want to get faster at running, and I want to take better care of my skin, especially as I'm getting older. Therefore, the three ways that I can improve my health are:
  • Diversify workout routine with cross training. 
  • Run three times a week, focusing on speed work, in order to set new PR's. 
  • Take better care of my skin.

3. Break your goals down into smaller, more manageable goals. Give yourself deadlines.  "Take better care of my skin" is an admirable goal, but it's not very specific. And if goals are not specific, then they're doomed. Once I have set my goals, I write out the steps that I need to take to achieve them. Thinking my goals through in this way forces me to consider what I have to do to get them done. Be realistic, but don't be afraid to show some ambition. Easy goals are no fun! Here's my health example after the third and final step of goal setting:

Health Goals for 2011

A. Diversify workout routine with cross training. 
  • Weight train twice per week on lunch breaks. 
  • Bike, swim or take a group class once a week. 
  • Start rock climbing again.
B. Run three times a week, focusing on speed work, in order to set new PR's.
  • Concentrate on speed work and weight training after the Houston Marathon. 
  • PR Goals: 4:30 in Houston Marathon; 1:55 in Groveton Half; break 25 minutes in a 5K.
C. Take better care of my skin. 
  •  Use a moisturizer with SPF 15 every morning. 
  • Create a nightly skin care routine. 
  • Find a simple make up routine that works for me.
    4. Check in with your goals monthly. Celebrate your progress and always know your next step!

    As for the rest of my goals, I will post them in a few days. I'm still ironing out the details. Resolution setting takes time, as you can see! In the meantime, I hope you're all having a great week. I miss our daily chats and am looking forward to posting again regularly next week.

    Happy New Year!