February 04, 2015.
Is your resolutions successful? An action plan is composed of several specific do-able activities…
Successful Resolutions don’t just happen; they require a little forethought and planning. Desire and commitment alone will not get you to the gym three days a week if meetings, carpool, winter weather or favorite TV shows get in the way. Even changes that will eventually give you more positive energy take some getting used to in the beginning.
The challenge of change
Statistics tell us that many people have difficulty changing health behaviors. For example, only 50 percent of people beginning an exercise program will still be with the program after three to six months. Quitting smoking, eating a more healthful diet and drinking less alcohol are difficult as well. A decision to change requires that you rearrange your life in some way. The first step in implementing a New Year’s resolution is to create an action plan to help you achieve your goals.
Give your goal an action plan
Many people get derailed early in the year because their goals do not include a specific plan of action. After all, you can’t “do” a goal unless you have done some careful thinking and planning. Resolutions like “get more exercise” or “eat better” are difficult to put into operation. An action plan is composed of several specific do-able activities that will help move you toward your goal. If your goal is to get more exercise, for example, you will need to decide what kind of exercise to do, when to do it, and with whom (if others are involved). Be sure that the type of exercise you have selected will help you achieve your fitness goals and is appropriate for any health concerns you may have. And of course, you will want something that is enjoyable and fits into the rest of your life.
Be sure goals and action plans are feasible
Do feasibility studies from time to time to be sure your goals and action plans are realistic. One of the most problematic goals for a New Year’s resolution is weight loss, especially substantial weight loss. It’s more helpful to focus on associated behaviors that you have more control over, such as exercising regularly and eating more fruits and vegetables. Sometimes goals are too vague, for example “manage stress.” If stress management is the goal, an action plan must include a specific prescription for stress-reducing activities, such as exercise and time management.
Sometimes action plans look great on paper, but require more time and effort than you’re willing to expend. Adjust accordingly. It’s better to plan for small changes and really make them, than to throw in the towel when the grand plan becomes impossible to accomplish.
Substitute “learning experience” for “failure”
Difficulty sticking to your plan is not failure; it’s a learning experience. Every time your plan does not work, you learn something about yourself and the behavior you are trying to change. You learn what works for you in your life, and what doesn’t work. Each time you try to change, your chances of success increases. Many changes, such as quitting smoking or starting to exercise, often take several tries before a person is successful.
Set and accomplish quick and easy goals
When you feel successful early in the behavior change game, it is easier to continue your efforts. As you devise your action plan, begin with steps that are quick and easy to accomplish. Reward yourself for exercising two times a week or signing up for that stress-management workshop. Charting your progress enhances the feeling of success. Keep track of your exercises or relaxation sessions on a calendar. Log the miles you walk, cycle or swim.
Get your friends, family and coworkers involved
Getting others appropriately involved in your action plan gives you momentum and social support. It’s easier for you to eat better if everyone in your household signs on for more healthful meals than if you have to shop and prepare a separate meal for yourself. When healthful behaviors are simply part of your family life, workday or social life, they start to happen on their own, with less effort from you.
Get good advice
Get help from knowledgeable people. Ask your exercise instructor or personal trainer for help with your program; get input from a nutritionist about dietary change. Your health care providers may have good advice. Ask for recommendations for good books on topics of interest, and use motivational readings to reinforce the benefits of your resolutions to keep you on track.