Allison Hagendorf by Allison Hagendorf

It’s January. A clean slate. A fresh start. We all have great intentions and genuinely want to do better and to be better. We all propose pie-in-the-sky solutions because we have the whole year ahead to accomplish whatever we want. But then a few weeks pass and we’re at the end of January, and pie-in-the-sky has gone back to pie on your plate. 

Sound familiar? 

Thirty-five percent of those who make New Year’s resolutions break them by the end of January, and most return to old habits by January 17. Why is this? 

It comes down to one thing, and one thing only: mindset. 

People tend to look extrinsically for that magic pill, that secret tip or that new trend, when really the only tool they need to achieve their goals is within their gut. I’m talking about attitude. 

Your heart starts in the right place, but then, if you’re like most people, you make overly ambitious goals with no real plan. Many of us say, “I’m going to eat better.” But what does that really mean? What does that look like? We blindly embark on this perpetual path, ill-equipped to tackle this new terrain. We get overwhelmed and quickly revert to old habits and take the path of least resistance. Or is it? 

Surrendering to old habits is only easier for a moment, but then our goals move that much further away. By abandoning our goals, we’ve turned a slight detour into an insurmountable mountain of negative behavior. 

The key to keep in mind is that habits actually require little-to-no energy. Ideally, all we need to do is to swap negative habits for positive ones. Easy enough, right? Well it truly is easy, if we have the right mindset. If we approach this new road of resolutions as something that is going to be brutal, nearly impossible, and positively painful, then January 17 will quickly become your resolutions D-day, too. 

What we need to do is rewire our association with our habitual behaviors. For example, if you view the act of swapping out certain foods as a sacrifice, then you will continue to fight with yourself, and will ultimately lose the battle. But if you view the act of swapping out certain foods as a liberating, conscious choice over which you have control, meaningfully moving toward your end-goal, then you are setting yourself up to succeed. 

In other words, if you are truly excited about your specific goals and are able to visualize the results and how they will change your life, THEN, and only then, can you actually make the switch from mere dreaming to real achieving. Envelop positivity and positivity will envelop you. 

Here’s how to positively alter your thinking for success: 

Make gratitude your attitude. Start each day by acknowledging three things for which you are grateful. If you start from a place where you have peace, you will be excited to embrace the day with the goal of making it even better.

Motivate. Ask yourself WHY you want to reach your goal. Find the intrinsic motivation to muster up the excitement to make this happen for yourself. You deserve to reach your personal best.

Visualize. Envision yourself achieving your goals and basking in the benefits of the results. Picture yourself putting on those jeans with ease or approaching that heavy barbell with confidence. Maybe keep a visual reminder on hand at all times. Some people, for example, keep that pair of jeans by their fridge.

Plan. Fail to prepare and prepare to fail. Schedule each day in advance, so that time for fitness and healthful eating is non-negotiable. Take some time out on Sunday to prepare your meals for the week. Take the guesswork out of it. Avoid decision fatigue, which takes a nasty toll on your willpower.

Silence the noise. Surround yourself with positive people who support you, and remove yourself from the negative noise that doesn’t foster a favorable environment, both in person and online. Unfollow “Negative Nancys” on Facebook and follow inspiring users on Instagram.

Enjoy the process. It is great to have goals, but it’s even better to recognize where you are now and the exciting adventure that lies ahead of you. And I don’t mean later on this year once you reach your goals—I mean right now. Today. Each meal, each moment is an opportunity to make on-goal choices. With every positive choice, you help build that “resistance muscle.” Be proud of every bit of progress toward your goal. 

You can do this. Remember, a bad attitude is like a flat tire. If you don’t change it, you'll never go anywhere. If you pick positivity, you are priming yourself to reach your goals, full steam ahead. 

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