Looking Beyond New Year’s Resolutions for Success
It’s that time of year. January 1st has come and past, and we are ready; our journals, planners, and to-do lists brimming with New Year’s resolutions. As well-intentioned as those resolutions might be, they probably aren’t going to stick. Only around 8% of people actually achieve their new year's goals.
So, why do so many people fail to succeed after the new year? Let’s find out.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Don’t Stick
New Year’s resolutions may seem like a good idea; after all, a new year means a fresh start. It’s a chance to formulate new goals with an entire year to reach them. Nevertheless, there are a few problems with most New Year’s resolutions that make them less than ideal.
Most new year’s resolutions are long-term goals that people would like to eventually achieve. Things like losing weight, eating healthier, and quitting smoking are all noble goals to strive for, but they are also quite broad.
While there is nothing inherently wrong with broad goals, they don’t generally come with a plan. If, for example, your goal is to “get fit,” that’s great, but there are a lot of ways to get fit. What steps are you going to take to achieve that goal? What is your definition of fit? What hurdles and obstacles will you have to overcome to get there? Which smaller goals will you have to reach before hitting that end goal?
Broad goals are a good starting point, but they need further development. They need to be combined with a plan and with smaller, concrete steps for getting there.
The new year marks a time of change. Change is a good thing, but it needs to come in small doses for it to last. When the first of January comes, people have accumulated many different goals that they’d like to reach.
The truth is, habits are extremely difficult to break, and trying to change multiple habits at one time makes it almost impossible.
Goals Without Plans
New Year’s goals tend to be more like ideas, rather than clear-cut goals. People have thoughts about things they’d like to change, bad habits they’d like to overcome, and challenges they want to conquer. However, they lack the execution.
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry said, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.” For a goal to be truly sustainable and lasting, it needs to have an action plan by its side.
A Better Way to Reach Goals
We’ve talked about some of the reasons why New Year's resolutions don’t tend to work out. The good news is, all is not lost. Here is how you can transform your fleeting New Year’s resolutions into strong, concrete, and sustainable goals:
Don’t allow your goals to be so broad that you have no starting point. To reach big goals, you must start small. Work on small habits at a time. Instead of saying “I want to get fit” say “I will go to the gym three days a week” or “I will eat two cups of vegetables with lunch and dinner every day.”
Once you’ve formed a smaller habit, you can work on another, and another, until eventually you reach that larger goal.
The most important part of reaching your goals is setting them up the right. To go about it the right way, you’ll want to set up SMART goals.
SMART goals are:
Let’s go over SMART goals in more detail.
Your goal should be clear and specific. A clear goal will help you to know exactly what you are striving for and develop the proper plan for reaching that goal.
Here is an example of a specific versus a broad goal:
Broad Goal: I want to get fit.
Specific Goal: I want to workout at least three days per week and improve my fitness, so I can have higher energy levels and feel better.
Having a specific goal will also help you to stay motivated, as it is much more meaningful than a broad goal that wasn’t given much thought.
Your goal should not only be specific, but it should be measurable. A measurable goal allows you to track your progress to stay motivated. It also helps you to understand what works and what doesn’t.
Using the same example as above, you can measure your goal of working out and improving your fitness by taking your weight, body measurements, and journaling about your energy levels, mood, and overall wellness each week. This will help you to realize whether or not you are actually moving toward your goal. If you are, great. If not, it’s time to come up with new methods of reaching that goal.
Of course, you are never going to achieve a goal that is unattainable. It’s easy to get mixed messages when you hear things like “shoot for the stars” or “dream big.” Certainly, you don’t want to limit yourself, but you also need to be realistic about your goals. Stretch your limits, but choose a goal that is still possible.
If your goal is to improve your fitness but you are a busy mom with a full-time job, it might not be realistic to strive to workout for 60 minutes, six days a week. Instead, choose something that is more in line with your lifestyle. It may be more realistic to strive for three days a week, knowing that you can always do more if your schedule permits.
Your goal should be meaningful and relevant to you. Don’t choose a goal just because you think it’s expected of you. Choose a goal that you actually want, that fits your lifestyle, and that coincides with your other habits.
Every good goal needs a deadline. Otherwise, you likely aren’t going to achieve it. For example, if your goal is to lose 20 pounds in 2018, set small, time-bound goals and focus on losing a little at a time. You might strive to lose one or two pounds per week, or five pounds by the end of March.
Mark your calendar with time-frames to achieve small goals and use that as a method of tracking your progress. While the new year is a great time to reflect and possibly even gain some closure, it’s still just another day out of the year. Whatever your goals, don’t wait to achieve them. Use the tips mentioned above and take advantage of the NOW. You can get a head start on your fitness goals during your next session at Gloveworx!