It is that time of year where many feel the obligation to make a New Year’s resolution. I suspect that a majority of goals for the New Year revolve around health and wellness. At risk of being like bubble-less champagne on New Year’s Eve, I do know that there is sufficient data to suggest that a proclamation towards exercise is far different than participating in actual exercise in 2013.
There are many potential and individual reasons for this. One may be the failure to make any stumbling resolutions for your future. Dreams of wellness success abound. When the bell tolls midnight on the 31st, stating, “I plan on losing 15 pounds by lifting things up and putting them down at the gym,” fits the resolution obligation. Sure it is optimistic and sounds great, but is there any wellness benefit beyond the momentary warm and fuzzy feeling it provides?
Differently, stating, “I really prefer sitting on the couch after work rather than on the lifecycle. This year I plan on taking my workout bag to the office, so I can stop at the gym before opening my home’s door to the sweet calls of the couch,” may require a bit more forethought than the typical New Year’s spirit encourages. Yet such a statement makes some real sense for the wellness challenge.
Planning for success is nice. Planning for struggles leads to behaviors that can stick. With a few moments of reflection, most people know the specific times that will lead to dietary indiscretions and the life challenges that will get them out of their exercise routines. Also, it is quite natural when in the moment of sloth or gluttonous temptation to fall towards the capital vices. Without a plan to cope differently with such enticements, it is quite human to fall prey to them. There is hope however… considering struggles in advance of the Siren’s call can lead to both restraint and strength. Rather than having to problem solve in the moment of challenge, a reasonable game plan is ready to be put into action. Furthermore, adherence science has shown that each time obstacles are successfully navigated, confidence for future success grows a bit. A good plan can get you out of bed and to the gym on January 7. In time, it will also make setting an extra alarm clock an unnecessary motivational crutch.
Goals are nice… plans for the stumbles are strengthening. Seeing future obstacles may require a bit more mental effort, but taking the extra time to look beyond grand goals will deepen the psychological aptitude necessary to stick with exercise. On New Year’s Eve resolve how fitness challenges will be managed. Better than a traditional resolution, this can help get new behaviors out of the early weeks of January - giving them potential to thrive into the spring.
Keep moving in 2013.
Dr. Adam Naylor leads Telos Sport Psychology Consulting and is a Clinical Assistant Professor in Boston University’s School of Education. He has a decade and a half of experiences working with professional through amateur athletes – of note: US Open competitors, NCAA champions, Olympians, Stanley Cup winners, and UFC martial artists. Beyond sports, over the past five years he has served as a corporate performance and wellness consultant. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @ahnaylor.