By Natalie Serafini, Assistant Editor
The new year is an opportunity to be and do better, but it’s easy to feel overwhelmed at the prospect of deciding what to change, how to change, and how to make the changes stick. Resolutions taper off as January ages and our resolve grows stale, so here are some templates for gradually improving something that you want to ch-ch-ch-ch-change!
Losing weight/getting healthy/updating your workout routine: First off, be realistic. Don’t aim to lose 20 lbs in 10 days because, honey, that’s not gonna happen. Start by deciding on a final weight goal, then aim to lose approximately one pound a week until you reach your final goal. It’s manageable and healthy to take on this “slow and steady wins the race” mentality, and feeling like you’re succeeding by meeting your weekly goals will keep you on track and feeling encouraged. Make the process fun by finding a friend with a similar goal: work out together or compare recipes. And speaking of fun, make sure to choose a workout class that you truly enjoy. You aren’t going to want to go to some class that you grimace your way through, but if you’re having fun you’ll actually exercise. I’ve found that I love kick and box, but dancing it up at a dance class, stretching through yoga, or strengthening through Pilates are all great options. Find what you enjoy, and you’ll find that you’re more willing to stick with the exercise program.
Changing your look: Maybe you want to change your hair, or make your wardrobe more professional. Whatever the case, manageability is a factor here. You likely don’t have the funds to completely revamp your wardrobe, so see about investing in a few key pieces, like a tailored blazer, or a pair of shoes that will last a long time and still look killer.
If you want to update your hair, don’t make any drastic changes if you’re uncertain. Consider your lifestyle and your comfort level: if your hair is really curly and you don’t like high-maintenance locks, don’t get bangs. If you’re not sure you’ll be comfortable with a pixie cut, don’t chop your hair completely off just yet. You can still ease into shorter hair by taking your length up gradually over the course of a series of cuts every couple of months, rather than lopping it off in one fell snip. There’s something to be said about leaping in and trying something for the hell of it, but too drastic a change can make you miss your mane. Consult with your hairdresser about what will work for your hair type and face shape, and consider how you’d handle a drastic change.
Facing a fear: Facing a fear can be tough, but if you approach it gradually—and with some help—it can be dealt with. Depending on how debilitating your fear is, you might need the help of an experienced professional, or a group of people with similar fears. A fear of flying, for example, might require the help of someone who knows how to gradually address the fear; facing social anxiety with a group of people who struggle with the same anxieties can make you feel less alone.
Maybe you don’t have a debilitating fear, in which case you can challenge yourself on a regular to semi-regular basis. If you’re afraid of trying new foods, go to a restaurant and order something you’ve never tried before. If you’re afraid of asking someone out, push yourself to do it anyways—what’s the worst that could happen? (And remember, the worst that could happen probably isn’t going to happen.)
Addressing a bad habit: Habits can become really ingrained in our behaviour, so this can be a difficult resolution. Whatever makes it easier for you to address the habit, do it. Seek support from a friend, make gradual changes, or quit cold turkey. It’s not easy, so realize that it might take time and effort. Aim to stay on track—even if you set arbitrary goals—and reward yourself for your accomplishments.
It can be difficult to decide how you want to improve on your fabulous self, and maintaining the changes you want to make can be difficult as life and obligations get in the way. If you focus on longevity, rather than drastic and immediate change, you’ll likely find that your changes last you long after January ends. Good luck!