5 Steps to Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Stick (This Year)

A resolution is a change in behavior and as you know, we are creatures of habit. And most of us don’t like change. As a person living with multiple sclerosis, my resolutions typically center around wellness or diet initiatives that I believe will help me better manage my MS.

As I write this, the local gyms are at capacity right now with people who have resolved to lose weight and get in shape. By the end of the month, the majority of those people who started the New Year with a bang will have returned to their old routine and I’ll again be able to get my workout in without a wait.

If you made a resolution, then you do want to make a change. However, most people know that they want to make a change but don’t know how to implement that change into their lives. The following are five steps to help ensure that your New Year’s Resolutions stick this year.https://pixabay.com/en/accomplish-quote-motivation-1136863/

1. Write Down a Plan – There is a certain accountability that comes with writing out a plan. To see your resolution on paper makes it more real. On the top of the paper write out your goal, and then write the three actions you can take to put yourself in a position to succeed. Then sign the resolution and display it in an area of high visibility, such as your refrigerator, so you see every day. By completing this exercise and creating a visual cue, the resolution will stay in the forefront of your mind and allow you to consciously change your behavior. Also, the more reminders you create like this, the more likely you are to succeed.

Example:
Resolution: To lose 20 lbs by July

Actions:

  1. Cut out carbohydrates (breads and pasta)
  2. Replace carbohydrates with fresh fruits and vegetables
  3. Only have one desert per week

Signed: Matt Cavallo

2. Make the Resolution Attainable – Many people swing for the fences when they make resolutions. Most resolutions that we make are for behaviors that took a lifetime to build. It is unrealistic to expect that you can change those negative behaviors overnight. To be successful with sticking to your resolution, the action plan you set to achieve for that resolution must be feasible and work for your lifestyle.

Example:
Resolution: To work on my strength and conditioning

Actions:

  • Week 1: Do 10 minutes of cardio exercises combined with light reps around the nautilus circuit three times a week
  • Week 2: Increase cardio exercises to 15 minutes, increase weight and reps of the nautilus circuit three times a week.
  • Week 3: Increase cardio exercises to 20 minutes and continue nautilus circuit training at a safe weight and rep increments.

Signed: Matt Cavallo

3. Failure is an Option – When attempting to an implement a New Year resolution, if at first you don’t succeed then try, try again. Many people get frustrated when they try to make a change and don’t see immediate results. You are not alone. I made a commitment to lose weight and get in shape. However, my metabolism is not what it used to be and with my MS and other complications, I find working out a lot harder than it was in my youth. This combination has given me several false starts to implementing my New Year’s resolutions. However, every time that I think I have failed or don’t have what it takes, I look at my goals on my fridge and reset my expectations. It’s OK to fail when you are trying something new. Sometimes it takes a little bit longer to get going. However, if you keep trying, the new behavior will become old habit over time.

4. Understand your Limitations – This step is to understand how your limitations may factor into the first three steps. It is hard to be honest with ourselves about what we can’t do. Having MS means I may have some physical, activity or cognitive limitations that may affect what I am able to achieve from a resolution standpoint. I want to make sure that I factor these limitations into my resolution and action item planning because I want to make sure that I can be successful. Acknowledging your MS and factoring it into your planning is not giving up, rather it is being aware of your limitations and focusing on what you can achieve despite MS.

5. Change is a Marathon and not a Sprint – The age of information and the Internet has brought with it a culture of instant gratification. The biggest trick to having resolutions stick is understanding that change in behavior is a marathon and not a sprint. There is no instant gratification, rather long term results. If you need instant gratification then you can set minor milestones, but know that the real satisfaction comes from sticking to the plan over the long term.

By following these five steps you will be in a better position to having your New Year’s resolutions stick this year. The sixth and final step is you. Are you committed to be being the change you want to become? I believe in you and believe that this is the year that you can make it happen!

**Originally posted by Matt Cavallo on MS Focus Magazine at http://msfocusmagazine.org/Life-With-MS/Article?itemid=251**

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