On New Year’s Resolutions: Your Goal is to Be Healthier. Period.

I’m big on resolutions. I’m big on pick a date to start an event. January 1, unfortunately, is a random date that a lot of people line up for that, and it kind of matches where they’re at in the change process. They’ve been thinking about starting it for months. But there are a lot of people that line up mid-December and go, “Yeah, me too. I’ll join the gym,” with the guy who has been thinking about it for three, four, or five months and doing a little bit of thinking and mulling over a little bit of activity. Yeah, that sounds like a good idea.

But here’s the catch: the “me too” crowd on January 1 will be out of that gym by February. Go to any gym the first month, January, and you’re going to see people you’ll never see again. You’ll see them wearing their brand new clothes, doing stuff on machines that they shouldn’t be doing. And they’ll be gone by February. Why? Because they were “me too.”

Here are a couple of keys on picking dates because picking dates is valuable. Pick a date and start to prepare for that date. Make some little changes, some adjustments, and know that you’re going to make that day, that you’re going to step into it that day.We also know we’ll meet those dates if we share it with a few people.Not on the internet, but share it with a few people. Be accountable. Step out and try it. That mindset helps us achieve goals.

And to keep it manageable and achievable, you’ve got to be able to measure what it is you’re trying to do.Picking a date helps you accomplish it. It also helps to shift your mind to, “No, I’ve started,” and you’re more likely to accomplish it because now you’ve got some skin in the game with yourself. You’ll say to yourself, “No, I’ve set a goal. This is where I’m at and I’m going to do that.” And if you’re not able to achieve it, then you need to step back and think, “Maybe I wasn’t as ready to change this as I thought. Maybe there are some other things at play that I really had not thought about.” It doesn’t mean that’s still not a goal, but maybe your approach needs to change a little. So, if you pick a date in January to start…and you’re not really ready, don’t do it.

Instead, come back to the goal you’re setting for yourself.Understand that we do better when we have short-term goals and long-term goals that are objective, that can be measured.You want a plan that anybody can look at and say, “Okay, I see how you are going to measure success.” Just “feeling better” is something you can’t measure.“Looking better” is something you can’t measure, either.

But I know I’ve made progress when I can now wear the new suit I bought or I can now fit into the dress I bought. That’s an achievable goal. It doesn’t always have to be numbers. The short-term goal may be that you’re going to eat less or drink less. For the month it may be that you want to be in a place where you’re eating more nutritious foods and being more physically active. Maybe buy a Fitbit.

Those short-term and long-term goals and things that you can actually measure are ways that you can keep your goals realistic. And they have to be realistic. Sometimes we doom ourselves for not being successful because we set a goal that’s ridiculous.

If you finally have come to a place where the doctor says, “Look, you’ve got to start these medications for diabetes or for your hypertension because of the way you eat and your lack of physical activity,” and you’re like, “I need to lose 100 pounds,” well, that can feel daunting.

Instead, break it up into pieces. This week, reduce your calories by X amount. This week, increase your walking steps by 500 steps. Don’t look at that “I’ve got to lose 100 pounds” and get overwhelmed. Just take that off the table. Your goal is to be healthier. And if your goal is to be healthier, let’s look at a short-term and a long-term. Let’s look at a goal for this week,and maybe a goal for a month. Do a goal for today and a goal for the week. Start small and build on it, because success will build on success.

-Dr. Kevin Gilliland, for the team at Innovation360