Did you make a New Year’s resolution? Maybe you want to turn over a new leaf or take a different path this year. Is your focus on making healthier choices? Are you fed up with dieting? If so, you are in good company as many people with cancer are motivated to improve their health habits and self-care choices. Even through the rough times on your cancer journey, you can change up a routine or swap out a food choice to help you feel better.
News flash: resolutions don’t work for most people. In fact 35% to 43% of people who make New Year’s resolutions have tossed aside their big plans by the end of January. Why do resolutions often fail? Two chief reasons for resolution ruin are: lack of planning and selecting goals that are too vague. But there is hope! Look at your goals in a new way that is more productive and sustainable.
Start with your resolution. What does the word “resolution” really mean, or better yet, what does the root word “resolve” mean? By looking at the different definitions of resolve, you learn there is more than one way to solve a health challenge.
The definitions of resolve include:
- To break something down into simple elements
- To find an answer to a problem or question
- To make clear or understandable
- To reach a firm decision
Let’s be honest. What you have been doing to solve your health situation in the past has not worked. Re-do or “re-solve” your plan. Use the acronym RISK to guide you. A fresh outlook will help you plan and successfully sustain the specific lifestyle change you’re dreaming about.
Here are the four steps for my RISK “Re-solve” strategy.
Reach a firm decision about what aspect of your health you want to change. For example, you may want to manage treatment side effects better, walk 2 miles in under 1 hour, cook a nice meal twice a week, or return to work part-time two days a week. Be specific. Don’t just say I want to change my life.
Imagine yourself after you’ve achieved your goal. Draw a picture to describe your lifestyle change, or if you are not artistic, cut out magazine pictures and words to illustrate you in your changed state on a poster board. Keep this visual minder where you can see it often.
State the change you want to make in a positive declaration that you can visualize. See yourself making the change, feel the environment around you in this new change, and imagine what you will be doing, wearing, or feeling. An example declaration, I am walking 2 miles with strength and vigor at the community park in sporty fitness clothes. Fresh air surrounds me. Walking is the rejuvenation I look forward to each day.
Kick start your plan by breaking down your change into realistic actions to achieve your resolution. Be specific in the steps you will take to achieve your goal. Involve other people to keep you accountable. For example, I will walk 10 minutes three days each week on Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday at 5pm for 3 weeks. Next, I will add 5 minutes to each day for 3 weeks so I will walk 15 minutes. If it rains, I will still walk inside the house. After 3 weeks, I will add a 4th day on Sunday. Have a back-up plan or strategy just in case you go off course. Life happens so don’t let small detours derail your plans
The new year is still just getting started. Risk your time and effort to achieve your health goal this year. It’s never too late to change. The few minutes it takes to accurately plan a health improvement will be so worth it when you are successful.