I learned a great deal about resolutions during the early part of my professional career. I spent 10 Januarys implementing "New Year—New You" motivational programs geared to get employees moving and grooving after a long holiday season.
The programs were successful—for some, but not for nearly 80 percent of the participants. That's right, only 20 percent of the people achieved the six-week goal of moving regularly. You may be witness to this effect at your own gym. It's the season where you can't run on your favorite treadmill because there is a long line of people waiting. And five weeks later, it's all yours again because they fade into the distance.
Rather than focus on lighting a fire under the majority of people, I spent my time observing the habits of the people that were making healthy change and came up with this list of things that made them all highly successful resolution achievers.
1. Make it personal. A resolution is the act of making change, and that only happens when you lean into something that really matters to you.
2. Simplify. You don't need flashy clothes, expensive equipment or a complicated plan—you just need to take action, get moving and make it fit your lifestyle.
3. Be realistic. It's okay to think big, as long as you start small. The number one reason for resolution drop out is launching into doing too much, too soon and making too drastic a transition from where you were when you started. Start with getting in one workout, and then focus on the next and the next. Focus on what you can do today, and go from there.
4. Go deeper. Avoid pinning your target on a number. Losing 25 pounds, finishing the race 10 minutes faster—these are all external outcomes. Wrap your goal around something intimate and achievable like sleeping more hours, weaving clean foods slowly into your diet, improving your pacing skill to finish stronger. It's not about a number—it's about a deeper quality of life. When you focus inward, the outcomes happen naturally.
5. Think evolution not revolution. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither is a fitness goal. You can build a stick house in a day, but it will only protect you until the very first storm hits. Don't get caught up in all the short-term hype—invest in the long term.
6. Start when you're ready. There is no clause stating you must start when everyone else does on January 2. Make your plan, put it on your calendar and start when you're ready.
7. Be open. Listen to what speaks to you along the way. You may find that new Zumba class you're taking keeps your body from aching and adds a fresh spin on the old plan. Create your own recipe along the way and move outside the lines. You'll avoid burnout and have more fun (and want to do it again and again).
8. Find your flow. As much as we like to believe our bodies are linear-progressing super heroes, the truth is we're like the seasons. We ebb and flow through peaks and valleys of energy. Move with the rhythm of your personal flow and you'll make the most of every workout. That means running by feel rather than a pace. Some days you'll be faster, some days you'll be slower. It's not about a pace—it's about moving at the right effort on that day.
9. Connect. People that move together evolve together. They go longer, run stronger and have a lot of fun along the way. Join a buddy or group—you'll learn a lot, have a built accountability resource and a set of healthy role modeling friends.
10. Celebrate. Be mindful along the way. The true gifts of making serious change in your life are the quiet moments when you realize you feel better, move more easily and you're running in tune with the rhythm of your life.
Happy New Year!
Get moving this new year at a fitness class.