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Don't Wait! Start Your New Year's Resolutions Right Now
If you’re one of the rare people who are actually able to keep their New Year’s resolutions, then kudos. For real. If Forbes were to publish a 30-under-30-style list of all the folks who are able to pull this task off, the general public would be much more impressed than they are by the people who appear on the actual 30-under-30.
For the rest of us, keeping our New Year’s resolutions requires all the help we can possibly get. And some of that help is going to require thinking way outside the box. For instance, what if we told you that a great way to help you keep your New Year’s resolutions involved … ignoring the New Year’s part altogether?
Stop trying to make New Year’s happen.
Sure, it makes sense why the new year is the time that people try to turn over a new leaf. There’s a symbolic weight to the idea of a brand new year also bringing with it the start of a brand new you.
On the other hand … nah.
“New Year’s is actually the worst time to start a change,” said Registered Dietitian and Body Balance Strategist Dina Merhbi. “Body exhaustion from the holidays, decreased funds because of presents, cold weather that makes exercise unappealing (if in the northern hemisphere). And it is shown that 99% of people will get off the resolution wagon within three weeks of starting.”
Why should you wait until January 1st to get going on that great new you? When people say there’s no time like the present, this is exactly the kind of thing they’re talking about.
“Making a change is about making a choice now and not waiting for 'a better time'. Seeing this change as a lifestyle upgrade and not a temporary upgrade, decreases the anxiety and helps accomplish goals with confidence.”
Instead of making New Year’s Resolutions and then waiting around to start them, make those changes right now. That way, once the big ball drops, you’ll already have a month’s head start on everyone else. That pressure all your friends and family members will be feeling to maintain their resolutions? It won’t bother you one bit.
Not only that, but there are other benefits to starting your New Year’s resolutions early as well.
Avoid the holiday mega-binge.
So, Netflix has got this movie up right now called The Christmas Chronicles in which Santa is played by a trim, muscular Kurt Russell. This is an outrage. Santa has to have that tummy that jiggles like a bowl full of jelly, if only because it serves as a warning to the rest of us about the cost of holiday over-indulging. The holiday mega-binge is real, and starting your resolutions now will help you avoid it.
“Waiting until January 1st to start eating better and moving more may be the worst choice we make around our health and fitness,” said Health Coach and author of The Elephant in the Gym Gillian Goerzen. ‘Why? Because that arbitrary resolution deadline so often results in utter chaos between now and then. You eat all the sweets and treats. You ‘get lazy’ because ’you’ll start back in January.’”
“But what would your health look like if you just did what you can now?” she asks. And it’s a good question. Binging through the holidays isn’t going to leave you feeling more prepared for the personal challenges ahead. If anything, it’ll be the exact opposite!
“Sure, you may not be able to do exactly what you’d like, but every great choice you make towards your health is a great choice. That serving of veggies you had? Serves your body! That quick walk around the block before dinner? Serves your body! Being mindful of your servings (while still enjoying your fave holiday treats)? Serves your body!”
Goerzen also warns against the dangers of New Year’s-centric procrastination:
“Just consider that waiting further reinforces the habits you don’t want to keep. If you’ve been over-indulging and not moving regularly, those are health habits too (just maybe not the ones you want)—and breaking free of those and developing new and different habits is that much harder the longer you wait.”
So what’s her advice? Well, if you’ve made it this far into the post and can’t guess what it is, then let Goerzen make it crystal clear:
“Start now. Do what you can. Drink that glass of water. Eat that serving of veggies. Take that 10-minute walk on your lunch break. Practice one minute of mindful breathing every day. And … give yourself wiggle room to be human. Enjoy the holidays. Savor your favorite treats. Embrace the beauty of the season and skip the New Year’s Resolution entirely this year!”
Easy does it.
Anyone who’s tried to quit smoking cold turkey or even gone straight from holiday excess to a strict new diet can tell you: Making big abrupt changes is extremely difficult. Starting now will give you the chance to ramp up your personal reforms—and lower the risk that you’ll crash hard and fall of the wagon.
“There is so much pressure to do the right things all at once in our goals on the first day of the year,” said author and nutrition educator KJ Landis. “If we make a list and attempt to ease into our changes little by little, it takes the pressure off.”
Even if starting at the beginning of December is too big an ask for you, starting only a week before your New Year’s deadline could bring untold benefits.
“For example,” offered Landis, “if I want to take a new semester of classes at the local college, I can take my time during the week before New Year’s and read up on the subject matter I will be studying. I can prepare by reading the syllabus and reading about the professor’s style of teaching and his or her reputation.
She offered another example as well: “If I want to eat healthy as my New Year’s resolution, I can begin the week before and have a habit already set in place. This also helps with refraining from overindulgence on New Year’s Eve.”
Beat the New Year’s rush.
If your New Year’s resolution involves exercising more, then we have some bad news. Come January 1st, your local gym is going to be a total zoo. And while it’s great that lots of people will be doing their best to live a healthier lifestyle, that environment won’t be the most conducive to success, especially if you’re a newbie.
As RightFit Personal Training CEO Matthew Kornblatt put it:
"One main reason to start your fitness resolutions before New Year's ... You'll beat the rush! The gym during the first week of January is an absolute madhouse, so why not get into a routine a few weeks before? When most others will be taking time off from exercise during the holidays, you will have more than enough space for yourself at the gym.
“Getting a head start on fitness before New Year's will help you create and maintain healthy habits without the unnecessary distraction of fighting for equipment, or having to whip down someone else's sweaty bench.”
And while we always preach thriftiness on this blog, people with some expendable income on hand might do well to get some expert help:
“If you feel sluggish about getting started now, you might want to consider hiring a personal trainer,” said Kornblatt. “A certified fitness professional will give you the push you need, and will help put you on a path towards living a healthy lifestyle.”
Resolve together, fail apart.
No matter when you start your resolutions, you’re going to encounter obstacles. Some of them will be moments of pure temptation, but many others will arise from the difficulty of building up new and improved habits. Either way, one surefire method to help combat these obstacles is to enlist your friends, family, and coworkers in the effort.
From networking expert and author of Build Your Dream Network, J. Kelly Hoey:
“No one ever goes it alone. All of us reach and achieve our goals with the help of others. New Year's Resolutions should be no different. To improve your success in keeping your goals in 2019, start early and start by connecting each goal to a person or community.
“For example, one of the top New Year's Resolutions is to stay fit and healthy (followed closely by losing weight and spending less/saving more). Are there friends or work colleagues who have the same goals? What about switching a weekly lunch & learn around a boardroom table to a power walk & talk instead? Think about organizing a healthy potluck dinner with friends instead of a calorie-filled (and expensive) evening out.”
“Slip a note in the holiday card you send out, sharing your ideas and challenging those friends to join in achieving your New Year's Resolutions. The best part is not only will you greatly improve the odds of keeping your resolutions, you'll strengthen your personal relationships too.”
Making New Year’s Resolutions is easy. It’s keeping those resolutions that’s hard. But by getting a head start in December, setting achievable early goals, and building a support network, the odds of your success will rise dramatically. So what are you waiting for?
Health and Fitness Coach Gillian Goerzen (@runwithgill) has a degree in Kinesiology and over 20 years of health coaching experience. Gillian's personalized lifestyle strategies have helped hundreds of clients redefine what fitness means to them. She is the author of The Elephant in the Gym, a self-compassionate and kind approach to fitness and well-being. She teaches running clinics, yoga and fitness locally and coaches clients all over North America through her business Super You.
J. Kelly Hoey is the author of Build Your Dream Network: Forging Powerful Relationships In A Hyper-Connected (Tarcher Perigee). A sought-out speaker on the topic of networking, Kelly is frequently found on Twitter @jkhoey.
Native to Highland Park, IL, company CEO and founder Matthew Kornblatt graduated from the University of Illinois in 2010 with a BS in Advertising. A lifelong athlete and fitness enthusiast, Matthew saw unlimited opportunity in the personal training industry and founded RightFit Personal Training (@RightFitPT). Matthew currently resides in Chicago and he received his personal training certification through the National Academy of Sports Medicine.
KJ Landis (@SuperiorSelf) is the author and creator of the Superior Self series of books. She hosts weekly blogs, videos, and live workshops all over the Bay Area. The workshops are hands-on for the participants and include nutrient dense food preparation, movement for health, and silence as a healer. For more information go to www.SuperiorSelfWithKJLandis.com.
Dina Merhbi, Body Balance Strategist, is a Registered Dietitian for over 18 years, 500-hr certified yoga instructor, NLP practitioner, and leading expert in nutrition and body balance health. Her signature program, The Body Balance Method, helps clients get off the never-ending dieting rollercoaster with her 5-step system, and create a lasting emotional and physical change so as to not regain the weight. As a leading health expert in her field and on various media channels, she is on a mission to help women and men get out of the unhealthy eating loop, shrink their belly and create a healthy and wealthy mindset while eating their favorite foods.