Why & How to Set Successful (Health Related) Resolutions This Year
Year after year…. Do you make new year’s resolutions you never end up achieving? If you treat the new year like a blank slate, and fill the empty page with goals you never follow through on, this post is for you. Did you know that less than 10% of people actually stick with their new year’s resolutions long-term? This is because most of us set resolutions that are unrealistic. Further, we do not spend enough time or thought planning out how we are going to achieve them.
Should you be setting resolutions? I definitely think you should, as long as you do so with the best intentions. For most, it can be motivating to have some clear changes for self-improvement and the turn of a new year is like a fresh start.
If you do choose to set resolutions, I recommend following these 6 steps to set 2019 off on the right foot. Reaching your goals takes a bit of work, but setting better intentions to meet your resolutions this new year will make you more likely to succeed.
1) Reflect on the previous year
The first step is to ask yourself:
What did I achieve this past year?
What am I most proud of?
On a scale of 1-10, where do I classify my social, physical, spiritual, and mental health?
What do I still need to improve on?
How can I get there?
Write these thoughts down on a piece of paper, in a notebook, or make a mental note.
Taking the time to reflect on how our actions and outlook shaped our previous experiences can allow us to learn from our mistakes and our strengths. It also allows us to understand ourselves a little deeper and what our true self wants to achieve. In turn, this can help us choose meaningful goals and create action steps that we are more likely to stick to.
2) Choose the right goals
Based on your reflection, what are a few areas you would like to focus on making changes?
Ask yourself, on a scale from 1-10, how motivated are you to make changes in each of those areas? A common issue is that we often pick ‘resolutions’ that we think we should be doing (like going to the gym, eating “healthier”, etc.) but are we ready and motivated to make those changes? Before setting your specific goals (or resolutions) for this year it is important to decide on what goals and actions are achievable and realistic for you, and if you will actually be motivated to work towards them.
3) Set SMART goals
Now that you have a better idea of where you would like to make positive change for the new year, it is time to set some concrete goals. How? Using the SMART formula - Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-bound. This systematic formula helps us to properly define our goals so that we are more likely to stick to them.
For example, if your goal is to enter a running race this year….
Specific– which competition/ race?
Measurable– is your participation the measure, or are you aiming for a certain score/ time / place?
Attainable– Is it something you’ve attained in the past? Is it likely you can attain it with some planning and hard work?
Realistic – Is it something that is realistic given your current abilities and opportunities?
Time-bound– What’s the set date?
Lay out the details in 1-2 clear sentence (s) to define your goal.
4) Take baby steps
This tip is building off of the previous one… Setting a huge goal for yourself without planning how you will actually achieve it is a huge recipe for failure. Rather, choose 1 or 2 ultimate goals (or resolutions) and then set a few smaller goals that will allow you to get there. For example, if your ultimate goal is to lose 5 pounds, then one of your smaller goals can be to have 5 servings of vegetables per day. Another can be to have 25 g of protein at all of your meals during the day. Break your major goals into simple, task-oriented goals.
5) Keep yourself accountable
Do you have a friend with a similar goal in mind? Create a strategy together and make a plan to check in regularly with your progress.
Another tip is to sign up for classes in advance (such as a circuit class at the gym or perhaps you want to do 2 yoga classes per week). At the start of each week sign up for your classes and put them into your schedule, so that you can build your schedule around attending them and are more likely to make it there.
Is your ultimate goal to pick up running? Then why not register for a race? You are much more likely to commit to training If your goal has a specific end date and you have committed to it.
6) Enjoy the process!
Instead of just focusing on how you will feel once you get there, enjoy the moments on the way! Life is too short to keep waiting for the future; celebrate the small victories along the path to your goals and do not beat yourself up if there are some setbacks along the way.
If you feel discouraged by any downfalls, try this: take 10 deep breaths. Then grab a pen and paper, and write down 5 things you are most proud of about yourself, and/or what you have achieved in the past. Remind yourself how far you have come, and that life is a journey!