Clich?s get a bad reputation.
No one likes hearing them, and they are usually cringe-inducing. But I'm here to tell you to embrace them. Well, actually, I'm just here to tell you to embrace one of them.
The New Year's Resolution
What a brilliant clich?. The idea that the flip of a calendar from one year to the next will kick us out of the funk; the idea that we'll be so filled with ambition and willpower that we can take on the world (or just drop those pesky last 10 pounds—actually 20 pounds, but don't tell anyone). What a fantastic concept, and one that I latched onto in 2009.
It's been, hands down, the best two years of my life, so I can say firsthand how much a good New Year's resolution can change life for the better.
But what makes a good resolution? Here are four ways to break away from the clich?s and achieve your New Year's goals:
Stay away from the clich?s. Yes, I'm aware I just told you to embrace them, but, come on. You can't use a clich? clich?. That's just bad form. Make it fun. Spice it up a little. Don't just resolve to "lose weight;" promise yourself you'll go to Halloween party in 10 months dressed as Mario Lopez. Don't say you're going to start running; vow to do a half-marathon by September. Make it a pipedream--a realistic pipedream--and surround yourself with people who will be there to support. In two weeks, you'll forget that you promised to count calories, but the dream of that marathon you've been putting off for a few years will stick with you.
Make it a game. Reward yourself when you do well, kick your own butt when you don't, and keep statistics. The best part of games is seeing how much you can improve yourself. And be meticulous. Take pictures, track workouts, break your cigarettes in creepy voodoo ceremonies. Whatever you need to do to make it fun, do it.
Be drastic. If your ambition this year is to reduce your fast-food consumption, take the first month of the year and be completely fast-food-free. No coffee, no salads, and definitely no "healthy breakfast muffins." Cold turkey it for a month and see where you are after 31 days. Chances are you will have developed a habit of eliminating the bad and can focus on working to maintain your healthier life choices. And while I say "drastic," I of course mean within healthy reason. If you want to start running, don't set out to knock out six miles after having sat on a couch for a year. Be smart, but be aggressive. This is the most exciting time for New Year's resolutions. Make it a memorable one.
Stick to it. We've discussed clich?s and double clich?s already, but I'll take it one deeper: the dreaded triple clich?. We all know that guy at the restaurant in mid-March who orders a rack of ribs, mashed potatoes, French fries AND a chocolate sundae all while lamenting, "I guess this is the official end of my New Year's resolution." We all cringe, but give him a fake sympathy laugh. He just committed the triple crown of clich?s, and it's a sad, sad thing. Don't be that guy.
Have a creative resolution, be meticulous, and stick to it. There's no reason not to. You can do it. All you have to do is do it.
And, in the end, you will thank yourself.
Ben Davis is the first Active.com ambassador. He recently lost 130 pounds and plans to lose the last 10 in the coming months. He runs, writes and blogs daily. You can read more about his journey at http://bendoeslife.com.