It happens every year: We make well-intentioned New Year’s resolutions with no follow-through. The simple plan to pack a lunch every day is sabotaged with an irresistible burrito one day, and then the lunchbox is abandoned the next.
It doesn’t have to be this way. Resolutions can turn into real lifestyle changes. And let’s get real: Jan. 1 was just symbolic.
Start today or start tomorrow. Just start.
Three Kansas City goal-getters shared their advice for getting stuff done — not just making throwaway resolutions.
I’ll make big moves at work in 2017.
Jenna Murillo, who designs and sells planners through her company J.Lynn Designery, saw her dream of selling her own product line take off fast.
In mid-2015, she started her business online, where she offered freelance design services to small businesses and bloggers. She quickly shifted into selling planners, something she said was really her four- or five-year goal.
“I wanted to give (customers) the tools to take their dreams and make them into actionable steps to work their way through the year,” she said.
Break it down
Murillo’s planners come with a section where she encourages users to break their goals down into steps that can be achieved each quarter.
“I am a goal-planning, mantra-making crazy person,” she says. “I break my goal into quarterly, monthly and every single day. It’s the act of breaking it down into steps you can actually see, instead of just seeing the long-term goal and thinking you’ll just achieve it one day.”
Missed the start of the new year? Murillo carries a line of undated planners for goal-getters inspired to start on one of the other 364 days.
“I love the feeling of a brand new page, a brand new planner,” she says. “There’s something about a fresh start that I’m just so drawn to, and there is no perfect time to get started.”
Make it a habit
“The truth is,” she says, “you won’t accomplish it if you don’t break it down into the steps you can take every single day.”
She encourages fellow goal-setters to crack open their planners with a warm cup of coffee first thing.
“There’s magic in sitting down and knowing that the whole day is ahead of you,” Murillo says.
If you meant to study Spanish every day this year and go a week without opening Rosetta Stone, it can feel easy to quit. Murillo says to accept these little failures as lessons learned.
“2016 was the year of hard lessons learned (for me),” she says. “A big piece of moving forward on this stuff is accepting the fact that it’s kind of messy.”
I will get healthy in 2017.
If you’ve ever been to a gym in January, you know how common this goal is. Unfortunately, the crowded locker room tends to go back to normal come February, and it’s not uncommon for people to make this resolution year after year.
Jackie Roth, a registered dietitian at North Kansas City Hospital, says it’s important to think of health changes as a lifestyle, not a quick fix.
Bouncing back from the holiday season and dozens of Santa’s cookies can be really difficult, and Roth sympathizes.
“It’s kind of an ongoing holiday season from Halloween on,” she says. “And then it’s Valentine’s Day and Easter. It’s hard to get back on track after that holiday eating strategy, but just remember what you’re working toward.”
Detox with care
While there are lots of quick fixes out there on Pinterest and Instagram (like the celeb-endorsed detox tea that’s basically just a laxative), Roth says the true path to healthy weight loss is a balanced diet and regular exercise.
A January juice cleanse may seem like a quick way to get back on track, but Roth points out some pitfalls.
“When you’re juicing it, you’re losing the fiber,” she says. “You’re more satisfied when you eat the calories, rather than drink the calories. Drinking plenty of water is a better way to detox.”
Roth says that eating the rainbow on your plate is key to steady and sustainable weight loss.
Write it out
Roth also recommends keeping a food journal in which you track everything you eat and drink. It can be on your phone, on scrap paper or in a dedicated notebook. You should write down everything, even food choices that you aren’t so proud of.
“Part of making a lifestyle change is learning to deal with life,” Roth says. “ ‘Yes, I ate the doughnut, but I’m not going to let it snowball.’ ”
Once you identify the real problem — whether it’s Mexican food lunches with co-workers or the several glasses of wine you down while cooking an otherwise healthy meal — it’s easier to set realistic and attainable goals to change your diet and your life.
Roth recommends focusing on the positive changes you are making.
“ ‘I picked water instead of soda,’ or whatever it is,” she says. “Writing down the changes that you made lets you focus on the positive and not focus on the one or two areas where you fell off track.”
Take it easy
Roth says that, while eating healthfully is key, exercise is crucial for keeping energy up and sleeping soundly. Just don’t overdo it.
“Even making a goal to go to the gym twice a week is good,” she says. “Trying to go five days a week from the beginning — it’s easy to get burnt out.”
A good goal strategy has some room for failure.
“Life hands you curveballs,” Roth says. “So plan ahead for setbacks.”
Phone a friend
One of the best ways to be successful with a healthy change is to pick an accountability partner.
“Picking a partner, like a spouse, co-worker or even a child is really important,” she says. “It’s someone you have to move in a healthy, positive system with you.”
Post about your goal on Instagram, tell your co-workers, get your kid to keep you honest — tell anyone, just don’t keep your plans a secret.
Pair habits with rewards
When you turn your big goal (“lose 30 pounds”) into a set of actionable habits (“pack healthy lunches four days a week”), you get closer to your goal without even thinking. Press play on that YouTube workout before you have coffee, pack the next day’s lunch while you chat with your spouse every night or do five minutes of stretching each night before bed.
“It’s good for people to set small goals,” Roth says. “There’s reassurance in achieving small goals, and it’s rewarding. We accomplished (the small goal), and we can keep working toward the bigger one.”
Habits are crucial, she says, and there has to be a reward associated with the habit for it to stick. The coffee is the reward for getting through a tough workout, for example.
Roth says that a patient of hers had 50 pounds to lose, so she put 50 marbles in a glass bowl next to an empty glass bowl. For each pound lost, she moved a marble to the other bowl.
“It was great, because she was rewarded by seeing what she wanted to achieve, but she could see what she already had achieved,” she says.
This motivation method could be applied to lots of goals, especially money-based ones. For every $100 saved toward that down payment, move the marble!
I will manifest … (fill in the blank).
Maybe you want to save money for a down payment, read a religious text every day or learn to code. In yoga, setting a clear plan with actionable steps is called manifesting, and it can be applied to just about anything.
Lauren Leduc, the founder of the donation-based yoga studio Karma Tribe Yoga, used this strategy to increase her yoga business in 2016. She relocated Karma Tribe Yoga studio to 3545 Broadway in midtown and taught yoga in Mexico and Bali as an independent contractor.
“It’s about taking your ideas, dreams and desires and putting them into practice or making them real,” she says.
Make it actionable
Leduc uses a productivity planner to sketch out her action plans, but she also keeps this list on a big white board in her office.
She writes out a master list of tasks, sorts them by priority and estimates the amount of time each task will take.
“You have to have the discipline — every single day — to break down those goals into actions and to perform those.
Take it to the mat
“Yoga first helps to clear the mind and bring you to a more focused place,” she says. “Then it’s a good place for manifesting when your brain isn’t overloaded.”
She has shared this strategy with a new year manifesting and yoga workshop at Karma Tribe studio. “Last year, we talked about how to set goals and the process to make them a reality.”
Leduc encourages everyone to make yoga a part of their lives.
“It helps you to make friends with your body,” she says. “This exercise comes from a place of loving and caring instead of punishment.”
Starting with a beginner class is important, she says.
“It can be really frustrating for someone who is a beginner to be in a practice for more intermediate students,” she says. “Beginner doesn’t necessarily mean easy, it just may be a little slower.”
Increased strength and balance are benefits of a regular yoga practice, but there are additional benefits, Leduc says.
“You learn so much: what to eat, more about your sexual relationships, being in your body and knowing its cues,” she says. “I learn to not be judgmental about my body, but to appreciate it, which makes everything else easier.”
A few years ago, Leduc knew that she wanted to travel more, but she wasn’t sure how to make that happen.
“One of my limiting beliefs about myself was that I couldn’t afford to travel,” she says. After registering for yoga teacher training in Costa Rica one sleepless night, she realized that she had taken the first step to making her travel dreams come true.
“I said ‘yes’ to it, and then I had to figure it out and make a plan,” she says.
Taking those leaps of faith is sometimes the best way to break yourself out of self-imposed ruts.
“We all have these stories that we tell ourselves, whether it’s about the world or ourselves, and they can become really limiting,” Leduc says. “The new year is a great time to stop that.”
I will _________ in 2017.
What’s your goal for 2017? Share on social with #InkKCGoalGetter.