How to make New Year Resolutions that actually work

As the year comes to a close, a topic that springs readily to mind is ‘New Year Resolutions.’ Well, there are so many jokes being cracked about New Year Resolutions that it is likely to fade into history … becoming an ancient ritual practiced only by the traditionalists.

I know many people who got so fed up with making the same resolutions over and over again, year after year (like lose weight, quit smoking, change job, spend more quality time with loved ones, etc.) till they eventually gave up.  Only a few stuck to their resolutions with determination, steadfastness, tenacity, perseverance .. and reaped the reward from looking back at the end of year with a sense of pride and fulfillment as they said to themselves, “I did it!”

The question I have for you is, “Which category of people do you rather be?”

Put in another way, would you rather live with the reasons, excuses, or complaints about how useless New Year resolutions are, or enjoy the results from making them work for you?

Results or Reasons? You choose.

This time last year, fed up with reasons, I chose results.  Rather than keep trying to ‘exercise more regularly,’ I decided to commit myself to complete a 10km race (that’s double the furthest distance I had run in my life in 40 years!). Plus, I thought running will help me shed some weight too.

But you know the story … I hesitated to sign up for the race for awhile, and by the time I decided to go, the registration is closed. It’s been fully fully subscribed. What’s left was either the half-marathon or the full distance.  Thankfully, with some sense of realism, I opted for the former … not without some apprehension.  Your mother was somewhat concerned, and warned me not to push myself too hard (men with a big ego tend to do stupid things to the point of dropping dead).  “Think of your family. Don’t you die on me over this, it’s not worth it,” she said.

Standard Chartered Marathon 2011

This story has a beautiful ending. Eventually, I did it.  And what made it possible, were a few things that I thought are worth sharing with you.  It might also help give some insights on how to make New Year resolutions that actually work. Here there are …

  1. Pick something that is really meaningful to you.  Focus on an area of life that you feel strongly about. Being over forty and overweight (BMI score says I’m obese), health is a clearly big thing for me, although not so in younger years. Running is simply the means. It’s being healthy and fit that I was truly after.
  2. Be specific. “I’ll exercise more regularly next year” isn’t good enough. My resolution was:  “I’ll run 10 km in the StandChart Marathon in December 2011.”
  3. Declare it.  Don’t keep it a secret. Share with someone who will hold you accountable (preferably in a supportive and encouraging manner, not mockery).
  4. Create a structure.  Relying on ‘will power’ to realise your New Year resolutions is too hard work.  We are creatures of habit and convenience. Create a ‘structure’ that helps you establish a routine or ritual. For me, the 16-week training plan that I downloaded from the marathon website, a playlist on my iPhone, a pair of comfortable sneakers, and a running belt to hold my phone and water provided the perfect structure I needed. Each day, I looked at the plan, and try to clock the time as prescribed. I hadn’t always complied (70% is good enough), but I never missed any rest (non-running) day.
  5. Envision the ending.  Lastly, I held a vision of me crossing the finishing line, and hugging you boys and your mum with my sweaty body.  That kept me going the whole time during the entire 2 hour 46 minutes ordeal. Thank you for being there to support your old man.

What have I learnt from all these? New Year Resolutions actually work … if and only if, you are willing to work them.  Now, I could tell my ‘success story’ with pride … that’s a lot more fun than making up excuses about why I hadn’t ran.

So next year, I’m committed to complete the full marathon. What about you? What are your New Year Resolutions for 2012?


Your Proud Dad


2 thoughts on “How to make New Year Resolutions that actually work

  1. Pingback: Resolutions You Can Easily Keep « Mental Health Food

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