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Aging Well: Tips for nailing your New Year’s resolutions

Tackling your resolutions with good goal-setting can help you achieve them

This biweekly column is sponsored by The Mather in Tysons, Virginia, a forward-thinking Life Plan Community for those 62 and better.

You can boost your chances of sticking to your 2023 New Year’s resolutions by following good “goal practices.” To help you get off on the right foot, here are five tips from William Wesley Myers, assistant vice president of wellness strategies at Mather. Mather is the owner operator of The Mather, a Life Plan Community that is coming to Tysons in 2024.

“I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t in terms of fitness plans that people can follow through on,” William says. “And I think the same guidelines can apply to New Year’s resolutions.”

Regardless of whether you’ve made resolutions for 2023, you can increase your chances of reaching goals by using the steps below. They are written to target fitness goals, but they apply to other areas of life as well:

  1. Be specific as well as realistic — “Rather than make a vague resolution to get in shape or lose weight, decide on a specific, attainable goal,” William advises. For instance, if you want to get in shape to maintain your overall health, maybe your goal could be to lose a certain amount of weight by a specific reasonable deadline… or to be able to hike two miles.
  1. Big goal? Break it down — It’s great to think big when it comes to fitness goals… but a lofty goal like being able to run a marathon can be daunting, and that makes it easy to abandon. Particularly for goals or resolutions about weight loss or exercise, map out a timeline of smaller milestones to help you reach the overall goal. Or schedule weekly or monthly check-ins to see how you’re doing.
  1. Put it on your calendar — Once you’ve decided on a specific goal and broken it down if necessary, plan when you will devote time to working toward it. “I suggest you literally put it on your calendar,” says William. “Whether you are noting an hour every morning for a brisk walk or listing when your new yoga class takes place — if you don’t make time for it at the outset, you won’t be able to work toward that goal.”
  2. Share your plan for added support — Imagine two scenarios: In the first, you’ve resolved to lose weight, but you don’t tell anyone because you feel self-conscious. In the second, you tell your friends and family about your goal; this allows them to support you, and help hold you accountable. “Having others who may ask about your progress, cheer your successes, or hear about your setbacks will help you stick to your goal,” says William.
  3. Stay resilient — With any major goal, you’re going to experience setbacks. “When you backslide a little, start the next day fresh and resolve to get back to your good habits,” says William. “It’s human nature to use one lapse as an excuse for more — but if you resolve at the outset not to let that happen to you, you’ll be ahead of the game.”

“You’ll notice that most of these steps happen before you ever lace up your running shoes or eat your first salad,” says William. “By taking some time and researching and selecting a realistic fitness goal, breaking it down into steps before you get started, and scheduling when you’ll work on it, you are making it easy to stick with good habits and make it all happen.”

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