Setting a New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep
The new year is quickly approaching! For many of you, this means “New Year’s resolutions”. If you are like most people, by mid-February your resolutions tend to peter out. In fact, according to US News and World Report, an estimated 80% of people fail to achieve their New Year’s resolution!! Make this year different! Keep reading for strategies that will seriously increase your odds for success in 2020.
First of all, let go of the pressure surrounding the word “resolution”. It immediately sets the stage for the potential to fail. If your resolution is to lose 20 lbs and you only lose 10, do you consider that a “fail”? To me, that is a win! Instead of getting down on yourself and losing focus, let us help you stay the course. Setting goals is an important part of this process. Instead of using the word “resolution”, try focussing on lifestyle shifts and habits that are gradual and more likely to be sustainable over time.
I would like to show you 3 simple strategies to make your goals a success. For example, “I want to get healthy in 2020!” First of all… great goal!! Many of us make it our resolution to “get healthy”. What does that really mean? Let’s apply these 3 simple strategies proven to increase your odds of success!
1. SMART Goals
How can we transform “getting healthy” into a SMART goal? SMART is an acronym that stands for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Timely. Let’s break it down.
- SPECIFIC- Make your goal more specific. Shift the goal from “getting healthy” to eating “clean” nutrient-dense meals 6 days a week or simply moving your body for a half an hour a day. Once you have made your goal more specific, WRITE IT DOWN! Keep it in a place where you can see it daily. I like to give my clients a notecard that they can put on their bathroom mirror or on the fridge.
- MEASURABLE- Once you make your goal more specific, it needs to be measurable. There are 3 meals a day with snacks. That gives you multiple opportunities a day to upgrade the quality of the food you eat. How will you feel as you move toward your goal (have more energy), what will you see (muscle tone), what will you be doing (eating clean meals 5 or 6 days a week)? These can all be ways to measure your progress!
- ATTAINABLE- Make your goals challenging but realistic. Often times, people set out to overhaul their life only to find they get completely overwhelmed by the amount of change and then give up. Desmond Tutu once said that “there is only one way to eat an elephant: a bite at a time.” Break your goal down into bite-size chunks which eventually adds up to big change.
- RELEVANT- Do you actually care about your goal or is it based on pressure from society? If it feels like a “should” it is probably not an authentic goal. Find the “why” behind your goal. It is the “why” that will get you through the challenging times. An example: “I want to eat clean so I have more energy to play with my kids or grandkids.” This is a great thing to write on the notecard you display in your home or office.
- TIMELY- It is helpful to have mini-deadlines that lead up to your main deadline. After each deadline, reflect on how you did. Make note of what worked and what didn’t and remember to celebrate your victories! If you veered off course, no problem…reroute! Go back to your “why” and move forward.
2. Progress Not Perfection
Once you have established your “SMART” goal, focus on progress, not perfection. We are human and therefore innately imperfect, yet we still put unrealistic pressure on ourselves to perform perfectly. If we make a choice that is contradictory to our goal, some of us go down a self-shaming spiral that can end in complete abandonment of our goals. If you have a slip-up, this is a good time to practice self-encouragement. Think about a baby learning to walk. If she falls, what do we do? We cheer her on to get back up, right?? You are learning a new skill and need an abundance of cheering! This is also a good time to check in with ourselves and make sure our goal is Attainable and Relevant.
3. Celebrate The Small Stuff
After you have broken your goal down into mini-deadlines and have started to make efforts towards your goal, be sure to stop and celebrate the small victories!! Sometimes we can be too serious about our goals and forget to make it a fun process for ourselves. You ate healthy meals for five days in a row?? Reward yourself with an experience you love. These rewards don’t have to cost money. Maybe it’s having a pajama day, carving out time for a hot bath or watching a movie you have been wanting to see. Whatever it is, make sure you make a big deal about it. You have earned it after all!!