Monday, January 7, 2013

New Year's Resolutions

So. It's been one week since the New Year began ... and one week since I decided to secretly recruit friends and family into participating in a little study I'm doing on New Year's resolutions. 

There have been a total of eight people who mentioned to me (or near me) a specific resolution they intended to keep. Six were related to dieting or at least easting more healthily, while two were commitments to exercise or go to the gym more regularly. (I'd say the ratio itself is a note about our culture, but that'll have to wait for another blog.)

Of the eight, four have already blatantly and publicly fallen off their wagons ("Oh I've GOT to have another one of those brownies! I can't believe you brought these, you KNOW I'm on a diet!"), and I'm almost 100% certain that two others have quietly slipped or given up altogether. Thus remains two who seem to be sticking to it. Now, the math doesn't sound too terribly bad, 2 out of 8, until you factor in that we still have 358 days left to go. Doh! 

To spare you from becoming one of these unfortunate statistics, I'm not going to tell you to just write off the whole "resolutions" thing as a bad idea. Instead, I'm going to tell you to MAKE those resolutions .... but encourage you to do it QUIETLY -- and I'll tell you why. The biggest reason resolutions fail is because we go around telling everyone what we're planning to do, and we get all kinds of positive feedback before we've done one iota of work towards our goal.

If you're serious about losing a few pounds, or cutting out those cigarettes, or making any other change, start the work NOW. Don't plan a start date. Not even "tomorrow" -- and don't you dare say you'll start next January 1st. No. Wipe your slate clean NOW and do something NOW. If you intend to exercise more, close this web page, get your sneakers on, and go to the gym right NOW even if it's only for half an hour. If you intend to eat better, grab a garbage bag and park yourself in front of the refrigerator to get rid of some temptations right NOW.

And don't tell a soul.

Let them notice you're looking trimmer or being more faithful about hitting the gym or making an effort to choose healthier food at lunch -- and when they give you those pats on the back, you will have earned it. Not only will the reward feel better, it will give you the motivation to keep going. And hey-- if it's been a few weeks and nobody has noticed your efforts yet, let that be motivation to work a little harder.

If you absolutely must tell someone before your "post January 1st" resolution will seem official, feel free to leave it in the comments here. Heck, come back and post updates too if you like. I promise not to blog one word about it.