6 tips to rock your resolutions

My favorite part of the New Year? You get to take stock of last year and decide what you want to be different this time around. You set resolutions and feel ready to hit it. Then mid-February rolls around and you remember that making resolutions is the easy part, keeping them is where it gets tough. Not because something’s wrong with you, but because change is hard. No matter how much you want it. Change takes new habits and different ways of thinking. It’s disruptive. It’s uncomfortable. It takes work.

So, how do you ensure 2015 is the year you stick to it and take these bad boys over the finish line?

1.     Take a small step in the right direction. Change is about a series of small wins over time. Think of it like rolling a ball down a hill. At first, it’s lots of pushing to get momentum, then it starts to speed up and you push less and less.

a.    Let’s say you decide to bring your lunch to work to save money this year. If this is a brand new habit, don’t go zero to 60 overnight. Commit to bringing your lunch on two specific days each week for the first three weeks. (Having a concrete plan like: I will bring my lunch on Monday and Tuesday will up your odds on follow through).

b.    Make a little lunch zone in your kitchen. Pick a few things you like to make and will actually want to eat. Put the ingredients together in the cabinet or the fridge so you don’t have to hunt around for what you need.

c.     Pick a time on Sunday and make both lunches. Do something that takes 20 minutes, tops.

d.    Put them in the fridge where they’ll catch your eye in the morning.

e.    Once you hit week four, congratulations, you’re ready to add another day.

Here's a few lunch ideas to get you started. Just click to find the recipes.

2.     Stay focused. As tempting as it is to be a whole new you on January 2nd, you are MUCH more likely to make a new behavior stick if you make one change at a time. (Shawn is laughing at me right now. I’m not good at this. It’s so tempting to do it all at once!) But trust me, if you want this to work, stay focused.

a.    Is 2015 the year you’ll reach Martha Stewart-like levels of home organization? Great! Everyone should have a separate drawer for his quesadilla scissors. Alright, Cowboy, saddle up and tackle your kitchen clutter, one drawer at a time.

c.     Now, what if the sight of your long-forgotten kitchen counter makes you want to revamp your whole kitchen? Totally cool. But let that motivate you to complete the first task and then move on to a brand new look.

That's one good-looking pantry.

That's one good-looking pantry.

3.     Make it public.  Telling people you’ve set a goal creates a sense of accountability. Is this the year you start to eat healthier food? Sounds delicious. But don’t just quietly ditch those take-out menus.

a.    Tell a few friends that you’re going to cook dinner on Tuesdays and Thursdays (remember that concrete plan) and then tell them how it was.

b.    Start an Instagram feed of your culinary masterpieces. Humblebrag on Facebook.  Make your resolution too public to ignore.

c.     Also, think about getting a subscription to Cooking Light or Bon Appetit. Not only will you get new ideas and a little reminder to keep at it each month, even your postman will know you’re trying to keep that resolution going.

These pictures are making me hungry. Click away if you want the recipes. 

4.     Be your own cheerleader. When you try something new, it’s easy to focus on all the ways it didn’t work out. You’re making dinner on one of those Tuesday nights and it does NOT go well. You substitute sugar for salt, hit the start button on the blender without putting on the lid, whatever, it’s an epic fail.

a.    We all want to be naturals at everything we do but it rarely goes down that way. Don’t beat yourself up when your plan backfires. You tried! That totally counts. It’s not always going to work out. And it’s not supposed to, that’s how you get better at things.

b.    When the plans go awry, laugh it off, call a friend, post a picture of that flat soufflé on Facebook and move on. You’re building skills and even better, you’re developing commitment to get back in the saddle.

Pinterest inspiration and the end result. Ahh...yum?

Pinterest inspiration and the end result. Ahh...yum?

5.     Ask for help. You know that saying, “it takes a village”? Well, yes, that technically refers to raising children, but I think it takes a village (or at least a few friends) to do most things. Just like you want to be a natural at everything you try, you want to be able to do it on your own. But think about it. You ask for help and you get to learn from the mistakes of other people, rather than making them all yourself.

a.    My friend, Amanda, decided to run her first 5K this year. Could she do this herself? Definitely. But she decided to ask for a little help from Shawn, who’s been running for years. They had a great time and her inaugural run was full of useful tips and laughter, which meant she’s excited for the next one, instead of being ready to throw in the towel.

Manda and Shawn, tearing up the course

Manda and Shawn, tearing up the course

6.     Set reminders. When you’re all fired up in January, it’s easy to feel like your resolution will be front of mind all year. But life catches up and you get distracted. I’m a big fan of setting reminders for myself so I refocus on my goal every day.

a.    My favorite high-tech approach? I use an iPhone app called Alarmed. It alerts me every day to stay focused on my goal and (my favorite feature), it nags me if I don’t hit complete.

b.    My favorite low-tech approach? Something visual that catches my eye on a daily basis. It can be a little note, a photograph, artwork, anything! It just has to make me stop for a sec and say, “Oh, right. I promised myself I would do that.”

I hope these ideas help you make this an incredible 2015.

What are your resolutions for 2015? Do you have favorite tips to keep a resolution going? (Or any awesome stories about a resolution that did not go as planned?) We're all ears. Happy New Year everyone!  

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