The process of change can be challenging, which is probably why only about 8 percent of New Year’s Resolutions are successful, according to research from the University of Scranton.
But as many enter 2019 with a fresh set of goals for the new year, Seattle physical therapist Izette Swan says not to fret. Even if one stumbles off course, it’s still possible to reestablish your footing and accomplish the goal(s) you set out for.
“People are very habit driven, and breaking a habit really takes a lot,” said Swan, owner of Real Rehab Sports + Physical Therapy in Seattle. “The best way to make change is slow change.”
For those who find they’ve tripped in their journeys toward self-improvement in 2019, Swan offers the following tips:
Expand the plan. Oftentimes. people determine a goal or fitness program that is unattainable. Take another look at your schedule to see if it’s more feasible to balance work, family and exercise by going to the gym three days a week for 20 minutes rather than five days a week for an hour … and know that it is still a triumph.
“If you set a New Year’s resolution of losing 10 pounds in three months, it’s still successful if you lose it over six months,” Swan said. “It might even be more successful because you are taking more time and not doing anything that is rash or fast, and actually making a change in life habits.”
Make it fun and enjoyable. Fitness goals don’t have to be full of struggle. Achieving them can be a fun experience. Initiate a goal that is simple, fun and obtainable, and when feeling discouraged, Swan recommends reinvigorating by joining a group or club. Running, cycling and hiking groups in the community often host various events that bring people together to support common and individual goals.
Celebrate the small successes. Since change happens slowly, chart progress by viewing accomplishments as gradual change.
“If you have a big goal,” Swan said, “what are the little steps that lead you there, so you can make checkmarks and say, ‘I did this. I can accomplish the little things to get to the big picture.’”
Re-approach the goal from multiple perspectives. Gather a team of professionals who can work together for the benefit of your health. If planning to hit the gym, people often look to personal trainers. Swan suggest also visiting a physical therapist, allowing the different skillsets to complement one other when challenges arise. If certain pains come up during exercise, a physical therapist can provide additional support to strengthen the body and help you get back on track to move toward your goals pain-free.
It may be a New Year, but it’s also a new day. Don’t be hard on yourself when unexpected challenges occur or when it’s difficult to stick to the plan. It’s okay if you didn’t make it to the gym that day. Just trust that you will get back on track tomorrow.
“What’s important to remember is that we are all human,” said Swan, “and that is why making little steps is so important.”