January is a promising month, isn’t it? We check out of reality before Christmas and indulge, indulge, indulge during December, while looking forward to the new year the whole time. We know we have a fresh start when we switch out the calendar, and that extra reassurance gives us the confidence we need to jot down all the changes we will make to live healthier, happier lives. Whether you wrote down your thoughts secretly in a journal, shared them with an online accountability group or declared them to your loved ones on New Year’s Eve, there was something magical about anticipating the best year ever.
And then came January. You fought in frustration for a parking spot at the gym (where did all these people come from?), made a meal plan the first week but by Wednesday realized you didn’t have enough ingredients, and signed up for a language class only to feel stressed out by this extra commitment in your daytimer. And on it goes.
Did you know that 92% of people who make New Year’s resolutions break them within weeks? https://www.forbes.com/sites/dandiamond/2013/01/01/just-8-of-people-achieve-their-new-years-resolutions-heres-how-they-did-it/#71dba3e4596b So, if you’re on the brink of abandoning yours at this point in February, you are there with a lot of other people. But crumpling up your page of resolutions isn’t something to be ashamed of. The problem isn’t you but likely the types of goals you are setting! Before you throw in the towel, hit the reset button and be smart about it. Make sure the goals you set are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-based. Apply each term to your goals, and read my tried-and-true tips below for a greater chance of success this year.
Specific – Know exactly what you would like to achieve. Be specific when you describe it. For example, “I want to be stronger” becomes “I want to increase the weights I lift by 5 lb every 8 weeks for the next 12 months by training 3 days a week (Mon, Wed, Fri) with my trainer. I will re-evaluate this goal after 6 months.”
Measurable – How will you know you have achieved this goal? In the above example, there is a clear outcome. If you are lifting 30 pounds more by the end of the year, then you have achieved this goal.
Attainable – If you were to implement this goal, what is the cost to you? Do you have to sacrifice too much? Is it too much of a leap from where you are right now? It’s not a bad thing to aim high because as you work toward that goal, you will moving forward from where you are right now and therefore, still ahead of the game at the end of the year. But, being too far away from the end goal can be discouraging.
Relevant – Is this what you actually want? Is this really important to you in YOUR life? Just because ‘reading more’ is on the list of Top New Year’s Resolutions of 2018 https://www.statista.com/chart/12386/the-most-common-new-years-resolutions-for-2018/, it doesn’t mean it’s for you. Before coming up with resolutions, come up with a list of your values and then choose goals that suit you.
Time-based – Set a realistic timeline for when you want to accomplish each goal and sub-goal. This spurs action. However, the emphasis here is on ‘realistic.’ Setting a timeline that is stressful can negate any of the positive outcomes you want to see. The whole idea is to make your year more enjoyable, healthy, and prosperous. Give yourself a deadline but also enough time.
5 Tips For Greater Success In Achieving New Year’s Resolutions
Replace habits, don’t eliminate. Instead of cold-turkey quitting potato chips, replace them with something healthier that satisfies your crunch cravings. Like almonds or roasted chickpeas. This also helps you navigate social settings where there might not be a healthier option. Having a few potato chips at a party is no big deal if you have replaced them in all the places you can control, like your kitchen pantry.
Remember your WHY. Coming back to your ‘why’ in your moments of doubt or deflation can be the thing that sets you back on track. Are you working toward better health so you can enjoy watching your kids grow up? Put a nice family picture up near your treadmill at home. A visual reminder can sometimes be more effective than a mantra or vision in your head. But decide what works to help you remember your why.
Find support. Perhaps it’s an online community, family members, friends or colleagues. Find sources of support that you can check in with or who will check in with you as you journey toward your goal. Better yet, enlist them to join you and be in accountability partnership!
Stay accountable to yourself. Keep track via apps, a diary or a chart to track your progress. I find that those who monitor their own behaviour ultimately do a better job of sticking to their initial plan.
Choose 1 or 2, not 10. Limit the number of goals you set so that you give yourself enough time to make progress. Successfully modifying even 1 or 2 areas of your life can have a positive effect on other areas. Your quality of life can change with just a couple simple moves in the right direction.
Yes, January is a fresh start. But really, so is today. If your resolutions aren’t coming together for you, today is a great day to sit down and figure out why. Use the smart method and the above tips to really nail your goals this year. Good luck and may 2018 be your best year yet!