Get a Step Ahead on Your New Year's Resolutions

Father and son doing pull ups and hanging on a SwingSesh

New Year’s is right around the corner. Time to start thinking about those resolutions and how you’re going to achieve them this year. Here are a few tips that can help busy parents realize their goals and make those resolutions a reality.

1) Don’t fear change, find it and embrace it.

Without dramatic events in our life, it’s difficult to realize that we’ve become stagnant in our ways or need a change.  But the truth is, change is all around us – especially when we look for it.  From big changes like moving houses or new babies down to small changes that come with the daylight savings time or going to a new grocery. Any of these can create an opportunity to insert new and better habits. When creating goals and resolutions, think about the person you want to become and look for opportunities to embrace changes that align. And ALWAYS start something new with the best habit patterns you can!

I travel a lot for work and always make it a point to go to the gym and run on the first day of the trip. I find the first pattern I execute is easily repeatable, so I focus on making it right even when it’s hard. Start hanging out with people you aspire to be. Join a running club or find a new sport. It can be uncomfortable at first, but you won’t achieve your goals by staying in your comfort zone.

2) Actions are accountable.

Our minds are lazy and choose to remember how well we used to run, kick, bat, or throw back in high school as if we still can.  We forget how perishable those skills really are. Unless you have specifically done that thing (run a mile, knocked out 50 push-ups, hung upside down on the monkey bars) in the last 6 months or so, your skills at that particular task have atrophied. Does this mean you can’t do it? Not necessarily, but it certainly means it will be harder, and our ability to complete the task may be compromised from our lack of training. 

Set a series of markers that re-baseline your memory through action. Hiking for time on a trail, running a course, or swimming laps are great biannual goals of time or distance to ensure you are mentally aligned with your physical capabilities and helps ensure you know when it’s time to make a change.

3) Create multiple pathways with incremental goals to ensure success.

Resolutions are often lofty goals that focus on the end state – get fit, lose weight, eat healthy. We can see the end state clearly but creating multiple paths with incremental goals is the most powerful way to actually achieve your goals. This allows us to be resilient in our resolution; while we may face a setback in one path, staying successful in the other path(s) nearly guarantees our success.

If your resolution is to lose weight, three pathways you focus on might be 1) better nutrition, 2) more exercise, and 3) better sleep.  From there, make goals in each pathway for smaller actions that contribute to the whole. For better nutrition, empty the pantry of junk food, create a new habit pattern by shopping a new grocery, and set a healthy meal plan to shop for and prepare.

4) Have achievable metrics.

Many small successes compound allowing you to achieve big resolutions. Creating metrics that allow for small successes is important as it allows us lots of wins and dopamine rewards along the way, but also minimizes any small losses as well.  It will help keep you on track and allow easy restarts when setbacks occur. We all make mistakes and have minor failures along the way, but setting metrics that balance our objectives along the way create victories that compound on great days and earn us wins on the hard days.

Using the ‘better nutrition path’ mentioned before, think of hourly, daily, and weekly wins and put some metrics on paper. Look for habits you want to change and start making small changes. For example, I will drink water at work instead of soda, I will take healthy meals for lunch, and I will walk during lunch 3 times this week. These are all small steps toward an overall goal and keep us focused on smaller achievable wins.

5) Just start, then stack and tie.

Big successes are the result of a series of small steps taken daily. The fear of starting a hard journey is much easier when you focus on the next small step. Start doing something -- then stack to win. We often hear folks say things like ‘man, if I only had time’ or ‘maybe when the kids are bit older’ – but the reality is that every day that passes us by was an opportunity to make ourselves a little bit better. No one achieves something great in one step – even though it sometimes appears that way!

If you aren’t exercising much, start now with what you can do – 10 pushups or 5 pull-ups and tie it to a habit you want to improve. Watching TV? Playing on your phone? Tie a healthy habit to it - 10 pull-ups every time. Then continue stacking up your small efforts to keep building and making them better and more robust, but, in the beginning, remember that something is always better than nothing!

Hopefully this can help you get started on your journey to getting healthy. Here at SwingSesh, our team is dedicated to helping busy families achieve their fitness goals. Let us know how we can help you get there – we would love to hear some of your suggestions for how to be successful with New Year’s resolutions in 2023!

Brad Leeman

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