‘Tis the season for resolutions! Unfortunately, a recent YMCA survey found that less than a quarter of respondents kept their resolutions. Many (71 percent) tried, but stated that they fell short of their goals, while 40 percent confessed they gave up within the first few months, even weeks, of the new year!

Does that mean the odds are stacked against you? They don’t have to be!  With a few small changes to how you approach resolutions, you can set yourself up for success and have some fun along the way.

One of the best ways to stick to your resolution is to understand why you are making it. For instance, if your goal is to lose 50 pounds, focus on WHY you want to lose the weight. What will losing 50 pounds allow you to do or enjoy more of? Will it give you more energy or ease the pain so you can take a hike with your children? Will it help you sleep better? Or maybe you want to lose weight so you can reduce your medications. Know your “why” and write it down with your resolution. You may have more than one reason. That’s great! Having more reasons can increase your chances for success.

The most common resolutions are about weight loss or getting in shape. These are admirable goals in pursuit of better health. Often though, these resolutions focus only on the end result. Those most successful in keeping their resolutions break their big goal into several smaller goals. This makes things more manageable and allows them to celebrate the many incremental successes along the way.  

Let’s go back to that big goal of losing 50 pounds. Rather than thinking about losing 50 pounds, focus instead on losing 4-5 pounds each month. Take it one step at a time to make the necessary changes to reach your goal. Perhaps that means cutting out soft drinks. It might mean replacing unhealthy snacks with fresh fruits and veggies. Or maybe it’s slowly adding a few more minutes to your daily activity.

Write down each small change you are committing to and stick to it for 30 days. Then evaluate to see what worked and what didn’t. Adjust accordingly. Avoid trying to do everything at once and don’t beat yourself up over a minor setback. Instead, celebrate every small victory and keep moving forward in a positive way. You’ll be surprised how quickly those small successes add up to big improvements.

Dee Fairfield, Senior Healthy Living Director at the Northeast Family YMCA, shared some additional recommendations for success: 

Have realistic goals and expectations

This is key. No one walks into the gym as their fittest self. Give yourself the time you need to accomplish your goals without rushing your body. This will help prevent injury and setbacks.

Write it down

The intentionality of committing something to writing helps your focus and keeps you moving toward success. If you need extra motivation, write your goal on a post-it note and place it where you can see it each morning. Mine go on the bathroom mirror.

Celebrate your victories

Having a healthy reward system for meeting goals is crucial to staying on track. You should not deny yourself everything all day, every day.

Listen to your body

You know yourself best. If you need to lighten up a workout, do so. If your body needs rest, take a day and recommit the next day. Being in tune with how you feel will help protect you from injuries and ensure you stay healthy for the long-haul.

Ask for help

If you aren’t sure how to get started – seek out experts. If you need an accountability partner to help you stay on track to meet your goal – confide in a trusted friend and set regular check-in dates. If you are motivated by games/apps – buy a wearable device or download an app that tracks your progress. Whatever you need to be successful, seek it out.

If you’re truly unsure where to begin, don’t worry. The YMCA can help. Our staff are trained to help you identify realistic goals, break down barriers to your success, and cheer you on along the way. Coaches are available at all Y branches to help you beat the odds, keep your resolutions, and begin your journey to lifelong success!

Stop by your neighborhood YMCA to learn more or visit us online at YMCALouisville.org.