The holidays are in full swing! While we are making our holiday lists and checking them twice, we may also be making a list of what we want to change about ourselves for the new year. Maybe we want to lose weight, get organized, or get on a budget. You have tried before, though were not successful, which makes you wonder if you should try again this year. Why not avoid the embarrassment and disappointment of not reaching your goals once again? You are not alone. According to Statistic Brain, more than half of the people who make resolutions do not keep them past six months. Why? Because of a failure to set realistic resolution goals that prepare them for success.
Don’t be a statistic! Follow these easy Do’s and Don’ts for worry-free resolution goal setting!
A resolution is really a goal with a fancy name. So, techniques used for setting lasting goals apply to resolutions, too. Check out these Do’s and Don’ts for setting habit change resolution goals that will stand the test of time.
- make goals that are outcome focused. Have a good and enthusiastic “why” for your habit change. For example, if you want to lose weight, look beyond just being able to fit in your cute new outfit. How do you feel when you eat healthy foods and exercise? Do you have more energy? Do you feel more calm and able to deal with daily stresses? While looking good in your clothes is a great reason, you might find your enthusiasm fading over time if you don’t dig deeper into how great you feel about reaching your goal.
- choose goals that are in line with your values. For example, if you value spending time with your family, but you pick a goal that interferes with your family time, you will feel like something is missing and find it difficult to maintain your goal over time.
- create goals that are specific, measurable, realistic, and time-bound. Many people make resolutions to lose weight. That’s a great goal, though it is way too broad. You need to get specific about what exactly you are going to do to lose weight. A better goal would be to “eat 3-5 servings (specific and measurable) of fruits and vegetable every day.” The statement, “Three to five servings of fruits and vegetables” is both specific and measurable. This goal is time bound because you will measure your progress each day. You could also make the timing of your goal larger if that is appropriate, such as “going to the gym for one hour at least three days per week.” These goals are also realistic for most people, though the exercise goal might require a medical check-up before engaging in physical activity.
- give up if you get off track. It’s easy to get discouraged and scrap the whole resolution when things get difficult. Instead of ditching the whole thing and resolving not to resolve again, look at what wasn’t working and why. Perhaps your goal to wake up at 4:30am every morning to lift weights wasn’t as doable as you thought when you were making the resolution. Maybe you need to go to the gym at a different time and start with less days per week so you can be successful. You can always work up to going every day when you are ready.
- blame yourself if you are not successful. Usually, resolutions fail because the plan is not specific or realistic enough for your unique situation and lifestyle. This is your plan, so customize it as needed to achieve success. Change takes practice. Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a pep-talk (or find a supportive person to give you a pep-talk), and get back on track. Each moment is an opportunity to start new and make different choices.
- ignore possible barriers and obstacles to your success. Identify possible triggers and challenges to your success and find ways to overcome them. If there is going to be a potluck at your office where you know there will be a lot of tempting treats, bring a healthy dish you can enjoy so you won’t be as tempted. Also, don’t go to the potluck starving, as you will be more likely to eat unhealthy foods if you are ravenously hungry.
These easy to follow do’s and don’ts will have you on your way to making resolutions that will last for years to come! Want to learn more about making resolutions that last? Click here for more information about my Mindful H.A.B.I.T.S. Realistic Resolutions workshop on January 14th, 2017. In this workshop, you will learn break through techniques to finally make a change and keep your resolution. You can also click here to book a session.
Joy Carter, MSW
Mindfulness & Spiritual Coach