Instructor and Trainer Jason Van Sant is expecting more from himself in 2013. Read up on how he is getting real with his resolutions for the year.
New Year’s resolutions and why most of us never achieve them.
Now that the holidays are over, we have all started to think about the things we would like to do or want to change in this New Year: eat better, workout more, be a more positive person, etc. Around this time last year, I decided that I wanted to increase my overall flexibility. I was always envious of those who were able to fold forward at the waist and easily place both hands flat on the floor between their feet. So I decided that in order to become more flexible, yoga was going to be my thing in 2012. I purchased a mat, made some space in my schedule for a class or two a week, and was ready to go. I did pretty well for the first month or so and was actually able to do a forward fold and touch the floor with my finger tips without feeling like I was going to rip my muscles in half, but after a while “life got busy,” and I eventually stopped doing yoga. Sound familiar?
The truth is, what happened to me is exactly what happens to most people who set New Year’s resolutions.
We identify something that we want to change (increase flexibility), get excited and make a purchase that says “I’m serious about this” (yoga mat), work toward our resolution for a month or so (attend yoga classes), get a little closer to where we think we want to be (touch the floor with my finger tips), and then slowly start to fade away until we eventually stop. Why does this happen to so many people?
The reality is that setting out to eat better, work out more, be a more positive person, or, in my case, increase overall flexibility are all great things to work for, but the problem is that they are not specific and do not have a defined end goal. Let me explain. Going back to my resolution last year of increasing flexibility, I had an idea of what I wanted to achieve but had no defined goal against which to measure progress. What I should have done was identify a specific goal and then formulate a strategic plan to successfully reach that goal. My plan was to simply attend yoga classes, but what kind of yoga class should I have attended? Or better yet, was attending a yoga class every week the best approach for me to reach my goal? Instead of asking these questions, I just went with what I thought was best and found myself in an ashtanga yoga class where people were practicing headstands. Nothing wrong with ashtanga yoga or headstands, but they just weren’t what I needed to reach my goal.
My other problem was that I didn’t have a realistic timeframe set for my resolution; in fact, I had no timeframe at all.
When we set goals, we need to set a time or deadline by which we desire to reach our goals.
Otherwise, we get lax and say things to ourselves like “you have plenty of time to do this, so don’t worry if you don’t work toward you goal today.” Before you know it, December 2013 will be here, and you will set the same exact goal again because you didn’t reach it this year.
So this year, instead of setting a resolution like eating better or working out more, I encourage you to set a specific goal with a timeframe attached to it (Google S.M.A.R.T. goals). Some examples are: losing 20 lbs by Memorial Day, signing up for a half marathon in the fall… and completing it, or doing a set of 10 consecutive pull-ups by next Christmas. Once you have your goal in mind, formulate a plan to achieve that goal. Need assistance? Talk to a professional. This could be your physician, a nutritionist, a trainer, a yoga teacher, or anyone who specializes in the field that relates to your goal. Don’t approach this blindly (think headstands), and be wary of online advice, as it can be difficult to discern what is true and what is applicable to you as an individual. Ask questions, a lot of questions. And please don’t give up if you didn’t have your goal(s) set by January 1st.
There is absolutely no significance in starting your goal on the first day of the year.
Plus, you are better off starting after the New Year with a well-defined goal and plan versus scrambling to put things together as the ball dropped in Times Square.
Lastly, find someone to take this journey with you.
You will have a much better chance of reaching your goal if you work toward it with a partner or a group. This could be a friend, family member, co-worker, or anyone who will hold you accountable, encourage you along the way, and pick you up should you fall. This person or group doesn’t even have to have the same goal as you. They just need to be there to support you and cheer you on as you work to improve yourself.