Kari Barczak shows medals from previous marathons and other runs in Redford Township, Michigan, in December 2011, as she works to keep her goal of remaining fit in the coming year. (Regina H. Boone/Detroit Free Press/MCT)
February is here and those New Year’s resolutions may have already faded from our minds. Many people start out with tons of motivation and truly intend on making permanent lifestyle changes. But now that the semester is underway and homework is quickly piling up, it may seem hard to stick with those lofty goals.
Statistics show that 45% of Americans make resolutions, but only 8% are successful in achieving them. The most common resolutions are to loose weight, quit smoking, get organized, and stop procrastinating. Here are a few ways to stay motivated, keep on track, and follow through with your commitments.
1.set attainable goals. If loosing 20 pounds or writing a 25-page paper sounds overwhelming, then break those goals down into smaller chunks. Start out with a goal to loose 5 pounds or write the first 5 pages of your paper, and then steadily work towards the larger goal.
2. Recruit support. Friends, family and mentors help keep us focused and motivated, so create a network of support. This is especially crucial for quitting smoking or adopting a new health regimen. With a strong support network in place we have someone to talk to and keep us on track when temptation rears its ugly head.
3. Take a different approach. If you are not able to stay on track, then adjust your method. If quitting smoking cold turkey doesn’t work for you, then try the patch or gum. If you aren’t a morning person, then exercise or study in the afternoon when you are more alert. If you really want to accomplish your goals, there is always a way. And there is probably more than one way. Trying a different approach is not giving up, it’s finding a routine that works for you, which will lead to long-term success.
4. Relax. Sleep and meditation are two essential ingredients for success. Nothing zaps motivation faster than being tired, rushed and stressed out. It is during times of heightened anxiety that we are more likely to throw our goals out the window. If getting 8 hours of sleep each night is simply not an option for you, then consider blocking out 15 minutes each day to sit in a quiet place and clear your mind. You will emerge refreshed and ready to face your challenges once again.
5. Recognize your progress. No matter how small the accomplishment, be proud of yourself. Tracking your progress is good, but don’t forget to pat yourself on the back at the same time. If you quit smoking 2 days ago, tell yourself how awesome you are. If you walked a mile or ordered the grilled chicken instead of the fried version, remember to congratulate yourself on making progress.
6. Reward yourself. The more you reward yourself for your successes, the more likely you are to stay motivated and obtain your next goal. Rewards need to be decided ahead and must not sabotage your efforts. If you’re dieting, don’t get a double dip hot fudge sundae. Opt for the fat free vanilla yogurt instead.
7. Never accept defeat! If you falter along the way, don’t give up. Burnout is a formidable foe; it can grip you and hold you back for a while, but that doesn’t mean you are defeated. If you had a bad day or week, then accept it and move on. Don’t give up everything because of temporary weakness. You are stronger than a small setback and you can achieve your goals!
New Year’s resolutions are often major lifestyle changes, which are hard to implement. Humans are creatures of habit and changing those habits can be some of the hardest things we do in life. However, when we are successful in adopting our new ways, it can be a wonderfully rewarding experience that opens up new opportunities we would have missed if we had continued our old behaviors.