Last week, we looked at a University of Scranton study that found only 8 percent of people who make New Year's resolutions actually keep them.
Experts say that we fail to complete a goal when we take on one that's too big or nebulous - without specific ways to measure success.
Again, I fall into these traps all the time: "I just need to eat better and lose some weight." Or, "I want to race competitively again." But what does that mean?
Here's what I need to do:
1. Claim a specific, measurable goal. For me, let's say I want to lose 10 pounds. I can achieve this goal if I do the following: Stop putting mayonnaise on sandwiches half the time I make a sandwich. Eat cheese only four times a week. Go to fast food only twice a month. Run at least three miles six days a week. If I can get in the habit of doing these small things, I will be on my way to success with the measurable goal.
2. Make your goal public with people you trust. You have to have someone to be accountable to. Tell your spouse, your child, your friend. Don't tell your wisecracking friend who secretly wants you to fail, but do tell someone who will treat your goal with dignity and who will honor your efforts.
3. Create a support team. Spend time with those who share your new goals. It doesn't have to be a perfect fit, but let's say that you make the pretty big goal of stopping smoking - well, stop hanging out with smokers. Take your work break with the nonsmokers and make a new friend. Again, you don't have to be perfect, but try not to put yourself in the situation to do the bad habits that you want to break.
4. If possible, elevate your support team to a professional level. That is, instead of relying only on friends and peers, perhaps pay for a professional coach to help with the process. There are all sorts of certified coaches in all sorts of fields (from sports to hobbies to health care), and having a trained professional on your side will surely help you succeed.
5. Create short-term goals. Don't smoke this afternoon. Don't put mayonnaise on this sandwich. Get out the door for a walk this evening. Don't worry about the big goal and the long-term issues - just do what you can do right now.
For those of you who want to exercise more, next week we'll provide a list of upcoming events that you can mark on your calendar. These events will give you short-term goals and a group of like-minded people to be around.
Until then, don't forget to go to mayorrothschild.com and sign up to Move 100 Miles With the Mayor! Then get outside and get moving!
Randy Accetta, a past president of the Southern Arizona Roadrunners, writes an occasional column for Caliente. He is the director of several races and teaches at the University of Arizona. He is also the national director of coaching education for the Road Runners Club of America.