About a month ago, your intentions were good, your motivation was high, and you were ready to go. A new year had started and your new resolutions were about to be put in place.
So…how’s that going for you?
If you answered, “It’s great; I’m still on track and going strong,” kudos to you. Keep it up!
If, however, you said, “Yeah, well, I’m done with that; let’s move on,” you are not alone. According to U.S. News & World Report article from December, 2018, about 80 percent of New Year’s resolutions fail by February.
That’s a sobering statistic to be sure, but that doesn’t mean you have to quit altogether. In fact, Femi Oluyedun, assistant professor of kinesiology, has some advice that can help you rethink and recommit to your resolution, whether it’s about exercise, diet, or reading your Bible every day. Though Oluyedun specializes in sport motivation and sport commitment, his words of wisdom transcend the physical realm and can be applied to social, spiritual and intellectual domains as well.
Here are the top five ways Oluyedun recommends to get back on your resolution track. Or, to even start one today. It is not too late, nor never is.
Let’s say you resolved to exercise every day in the new year. That’s a great idea, but it’s not specific enough. How long will you exercise? When will you exercise? What will you do for exercise? A goal is better when it’s SMART, an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, rewarding and timely.
“Often people set goals that are too general or too vague,” says Oluyedun. “Goals, or resolutions, need some specifics. You have to have goals that are tangible so that when you meet it, that feels good and you keep going.”
For example, if your goal is to eat healthier, perhaps that starts with simply cutting out (or back on) fried food. Once you achieve that for a week or two, then move onto the next healthy-eating, like cutting back on sugar.
“And don’t be too hard on yourself if you don’t reach some of those goals, but be realistic,” he says. “I think too many people have these exceedingly high expectations that can get them off track. The key is getting back on that track, though, and not giving up even you mess up your goals a few times. This is about improvement so it’s about process, too.”
“I think a lot of people make things too tough on themselves when it comes to goals. . . No! Make it enjoyable. Have fun with it. This is about bettering yourself.”
2. It’s always better with a friend.
Humans are unquestionably social creatures. Having a friend or family member with whom to engage your resolution gives you two things: company and accountability. Even if you’re an introvert and prefer to go it alone, you may feel as though you are keeping your resolution for the benefit of others as well as yourself. Or, it could simply be telling someone, out loud, that motivates you toward resolution-keeping. “People who are either on your side or at your side are huge motivators to help you meet your goals,” says Oluyedun.
The bottom line is taking someone with you on your resolution journey makes the going less lonely and keeps you more adherent.
3. Mix it up.
The old adage that variety is the spice of life can also apply to resolution-keeping, especially if your goals involve exercise. If you decide to take up running or walking and are bored after a month or two, consider mixing in some yoga. Maybe you feel that cycling at your gym is getting ho-hum; try lifting weights twice a week. Maybe adding a sport — like shooting hoops or playing pickleball — into your regime is the way to go.
This can apply to intellectual resolutions, too. If you resolved to read more, perhaps changing up genres — historical fiction to non-fiction to self-help to spiritual books — will help you stay interested. . . and informed.
“Again, you don’t have to — and for many, probably shouldn’t — stick with one thing all the time,” advises Oluyedun. “But don’t be afraid to fail if you do try something new. If I go and do yoga for the first time, I’m not going to do it very well. Once I get the hang of that task, though, it can be really fulfilling.”
4. Fill your ears as you go.
Listening to music or podcasts as you exercise can help engage your mind as well as your body. It can also make the time seem to go faster. Develop a playlist or tap into a podcast that goes for the precise amount of time you want to exercise. Then when it’s done, so are you, and you feel as if you’ve accomplished two things: exercise and your listening list.
5. Know your WHY? And make it FUN.
Why is it that you want to eat better, exercise more, or read your Bible every day? Why is it that it is important for you to make a resolution in the first place? Understanding and answering your WHY, sometimes on a daily basis, can help you keep your resolution. Whether it’s for better sleep, weight management, mental or spiritual health, regularly reminding yourself of your resolution reasons is key to staying on track.
And so is having fun while you do it. “I study sport enjoyment when it comes to sport commitment, and enjoyment mediates almost the entire model. Meaning commitment is most often driven by enjoyment,” observes Oluyedun.
“I think a lot of people make things too tough on themselves when it comes to goals. ‘Okay, I’m going to try this new regime, which means it’s got to be tough and I’m not going to enjoy it,’” he continues. “No! Make it enjoyable. Have fun with it. This is about bettering yourself.”
And what is more fun than that?!