Winter is notoriously the hardest time of year to stay motivated. The days are shorter, temperatures are colder, and there are four holidays in the span of a two-month period. The holiday season also happens to be when most people feel like they lose track of their healthy habits. It would make sense, then, why 95% of New Year’s resolutions are fitness-related.
While starting fresh may be well-intentioned, it’s still cold and dark in January. So how do you maintain motivation once the initial excitement of the New Year wears off?
Get to the root of your ‘why’
First, it can be helpful to identify the purpose behind the change you are trying to make. Ask yourself, “Why am I making this change?” and “What will I gain from this?”
The first week or two will be easy. Usually, you can avoid challenges to your new routine or habits for that long. Eventually, though, you will come up on a birthday party, vacation, or other unforeseen challenges that will make it harder to stay on track. This is where being really clear on your ‘why’ can help you get back.
Around 40% of people give up on their New Year’s resolutions after one month. Sometimes, developing a new habit is boring or monotonous. After all, motivation wanes and waxes. Identify someone (or something) that can help you stay accountable to your goals. Accountability can come in different forms — like a friend or family member, a coach, or an app or tracker.
Identify your best outlet for accountability, now, so that you know you are supported when you get started working on your goal.
Set up a plan
Sometimes, developing a new habit requires more effort than we initially thought. Only 10% of people stick with their New Year’s resolutions after three months. Why? Human beings are ambitious creatures. For the most part, we think everything will be easier than it really is. Losing 10 lbs? Piece of cake. Until there is actual cake in front of you.
Develop a plan ahead of time that outlines how you will address different types of scenarios that come up in your daily life, and how you may handle unexpected situations as well. Think of these plans as guidelines to follow that can help you stay on track.
Set realistic expectations
Ambition can really bite us in the behind. While, yes, we should “shoot for the moon so you can land among the stars,” our goals need to actually be realistic. Is the first quarter of the year historically a really busy or stressful time for you and your family? Maybe this isn’t the time to set a weight loss goal of 30+ pounds. However, maybe it is the right time to set a goal to develop a simple exercise routine. This small ‘win’ will still get you closer to your weight loss goal, but isn’t setting unrealistic expectations.