As the New Year approaches, millions of people begin planning their New Year’s Resolutions. Exercising, losing weight, and saving money are among the most popular goals.
While the new year may feel like a great time to start fresh, accomplishing these resolutions is not as easy as it may seem. According to the University of Scranton, research suggests that only 8% of people achieve their New Year's goals.
Perhaps the reason so many people do not succeed is that they are missing some key elements in making their resolutions. This year let’s look at some important principles that are commonly missed and set you up for success!
1. Clarify Your “Why?”
You may rush through life to the point where you lose track of yourselves. In order to set meaningful goals, you will need to slow down and get back in touch with your true self.
Notice what you are really passionate about so that you know what is worth changing in your life. There’s no point in working hard towards a goal that doesn’t align with what you want in life. Make sure you are investing in things that really matter.
2. Know Thyself Deeper
Notice what drives your behavior. It is a crucial part of understanding yourself, so you are set up for success. This step can feel like you are doing anything, but don’t skip this step. It is so important!
Before attempting to add healthy behavior, notice your inner experience surrounding your current practice. If you want to stop eating late at night, notice the feeling you have when you eat before bed tonight.
Are you really hungry? If so, your plan will look much different than if you recognize that you are actually lonely.
3. Be Realistic
Take an honest look at your capacity. What is your schedule like? What commitments do you have? How is your physical and emotional energy?
As much as we hate to admit it, we are finite beings with limited capacity. Saying “yes” to one thing will mean saying “no” to something else. Make sure that your goal is worth saying “yes” to and figure out what you will say “no” to.
4. Be Specific
John Norcross of the University of Scranton says, “if you can't measure it, it's not a very good resolution because vague goals beget vague resolutions." In order for a goal to be achievable, it needs to be specific.
So rather than deciding to "exercise more," you might want to say that you will take a walk three times a week during your lunch break. Instead of deciding to eat healthier, choose to have a serving of vegetables with 90% of your meals.
It helps you see your progress and encourages you when you know you are meeting your goals consistently.
5. Choose Small Sustainable Goals
Small achievable goals are the way to go. The feeling you get from accomplishing these goals is energizing and can drive you to further success. Breaking large goals into more manageable steps can motivate you and keep you from feeling overwhelmed.
Hank Ebeling, of H-4 Training, encourages a one-step process for change. In this, you write down 4-5 things that are obstacles to your goals. Then rank them starting with what you think would be easiest for you to change. Don’t rank them based on the level of importance; base them on what is most achievable for you personally. Make your way down the list, easiest to hardest, with your successes encouraging you along the way.
6. Make a plan
Figure out the details of your plan. What do you need to do to make your goal a reality?
- Have conversations - are there people in your life that you need to talk with about your plan? Many times, our resolutions impact those around us. It will be easier to stay on track when others understand your goals and can support you in the process.
- Make lists - make a list of your action steps. Writing down the specific things you need to do can help you clarify your plan, give you achievable steps, and guide you through the process.
- Schedule everything - put everything on your calendar. Decide when you will do the action steps on your list, when you will accomplish each goal, and when you will evaluate your progress in meeting these goals.
- Take the first step - it is time to begin. Many of us procrastinate taking the first step. It can be scary to begin, and you may not start it perfectly. That is okay, just start!
7. Lose the black and white thinking.
It is easy to give up when you fail. If you haven’t met your goal completely, why bother at all? But for change to last, you will have to give yourself grace. Many people think that if you “let yourself off the hook” you will not achieve your goal, but it can actually be the opposite.
According to chief mindfulness officer Sarah Rudell Beach, “When we fall short, we can gently and non-judgmentally bring our awareness back to our intention. That’s really the purpose of setting resolutions - bringing a kind awareness to our behavior, recognizing when we’ve wandered, and beginning again.”
8. Practice self-care
Taking time for self-care is not a frivolous thing to do. It is actually an important step in achieving any goal that will last in a meaningful way. Self-care provides vital energy and keeps you from burning out. It also lets you enjoy your success when you achieve your goals.
"When you feel energized and cared for, it’s easier to resist temptation," says Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: What I Learned About Making and Breaking Habits.
9. Speak kindly to yourself
Think about your self-talk. Is it verbally abusive? If you wouldn’t say it to some you love, ask yourself why you are saying it to yourself. We all know that children achieve more when they are encouraged rather than spoken to harshly. Why would we be so different?
9. Fail Forward
When you begin adjusting the way you live, there will be times when you feel like you are failing. That is okay! According to author C.S. Lewis, "failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success."
You fail forward when you recognize your mistake and keep persevering in spite of it, knowing that failing is a part of the learning process. In fact, you often learn because you mess up. When you understand the importance of failing, it frees you up to risk, try, fail, and learn more. And it helps you be kinder to yourself.
If you cannot embrace your mistakes as a part of learning, you will play it safe. This might keep you from failure, but it will also limit your growth. Whenever your fear of failure holds you back, remember that no one is good at something the first time they try, and remember all the benefits of taking a risk!
I would love to hear what goals you have for this year. Hopefully one is to continue to invest in your health. If so, you can make an appointment to see me either online or by calling the office. I hope you have a great new year!