New Year's Resolutions: Staying Motivated
Whether you're trying to quit smoking, lose weight or start exercising, lifestyle changes are hard work. In fact, 3 out of 4 Americans find they face major hurdles when they are trying to alter a habit.
Once you get started, staying motivated can be its own hurdle. Having a game plan at the outset is important to staying the course, but you should also have a plan to address your obstacles.
Whatever your goal is, here are a few pointers for keeping on track and staying motivated this year:
- When starting out, create a road map for change. Whether you write it down or create a document on your smartphone, make it specific and realistic.
- Plan ahead. Consider what time and resources you need and then plan accordingly. For example, if you're trying to eat better, make sure to have healthy snacks on hand, wherever you go. If you want to be more active, set aside time during your lunch or a coffee break to take a walk.
- Don't go it alone. Having a friend, family member or coworker at your side who is working on a similar goal can make it easier to stick with your plan. Talk to your friends and family members about your interest in leading a healthier life and invite them to join you in your efforts if they have a similar goal.
- Set realistic expectations by breaking your overall goal into small, doable parts. For instance, if you want to lose weight, write down how much you want to lose altogether and how much you plan to lose each week. You'll be more likely to stick with a plan in which you see yourself regularly meeting your goals.
- Keep track of your other health improvements. It's easy to stay motivated when you see what other benefits you get from your new lifestyle choice. If your goal was to stop smoking, notice that your blood pressure has decreased. If your goal was to get more exercise, pay attention to your increased level of energy. Noting these additional perks will help you stay on track.
- Ask for help if you need it. If you're finding it difficult to make changes on your own or you're starting to lose focus, ask your doctor or a therapist for assistance. They can help you take the right steps towards meeting your goal.
Above all, don't get discouraged if you get off track. Change is a process that takes time. Renew your focus and resolve, then start again.
Sources: Krames Staywell, USDA Food and Nutrition Service, American Psychologist
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