Dear doctors: I’ve read that most New Year’s resolutions don’t even reach March, and given what happened to my plan to get started, I totally believe it.
What can I do to be successful?
Dear reader: You are one of about one-third of Americans who have decided to change something in their lives in the new year. And according to a recent YouGov poll, your goal to start playing sports is one of the most popular solutions. (Saving money, losing weight, eating healthy, and reducing stress top the top five.) But as hundreds of self-help books published each year remind us, it’s hard to change. Even the most disciplined person copes better with the game plan.
First, it is important to express your goal as concretely as possible, that is, to decide what success will look like. Does he work the set number of days a week? Run for a certain distance? Are you competing in a specific race? Each of them is a specific goal in which you can learn success.
Once you decide what you want, you are ready for the next step, which is a plan of how to achieve it. The trick here is to break the main goal into smart and realistic steps.
For those who don’t run, a great way to start with a daily 20-minute walk. Walking is easy, you can do it anywhere and it will lead to a habit of regular exercise.
Once this becomes a part of your daily life, you can start adding a few minutes of running to your walk. Alternate running and walking and gradually – this is an important word when it comes to achieving sustainable change – work on translating a 20-minute walk into a 20-minute run.
If that’s enough, congratulations, you’ve succeeded! If you want to move forward, continue this approach. Define your new goal and then break it down into steps you know you can follow.
Keep track of your progress and when you reach a milestone, celebrate with a reward. It doesn’t matter if the process takes a week, months or even a whole year to achieve the ultimate goal. The important thing is that you find time to weave a new habit into your daily life.
All of this brings us to the other side of progress, and these are the inevitable setbacks and constipations that happen along the way. Chances are, at some point you’ll fall out of the permit car; it is important to understand that you have failed. If this is a small mistake, forgive yourself and go back to normal. If you’ve taken a long break and lost a position, forgive yourself and start from scratch.
Rebooting to achieve a goal can be a challenge, so being part of a like-minded community is so helpful.
Whether it’s a friend or family member, a gym trainer, an employer’s wellness program or a local running club, if there’s someone to share the trip with, it can make a big difference. If you like a cross-country club, America’s Road Runners Club keeps an extensive list on its website, rrca.org.
Eva Glaser, MD, MBA, is a therapist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health. Elizabeth Co., MD, is a therapist and associate professor of medicine at UCLA Health.
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