Happy New Year!
It’s the last day of 2018 and while most people are thinking about the parties they’ll be attending tonight, tomorrow will bring a new year and new resolutions. Why is it that resolutions seem to last all of 45 minutes and then they’re forgotten? We’re back to our previous habits and disappointment in our lack of willpower quickly sets in. Resolution burnout combined with post-holiday blues makes January seem like a dismal month.
A quick web search for top resolutions of 2018 was very illuminating on how generic people get with their goals. Is it any wonder they don’t last? Why not change that this year? Below I list my favorite tips for setting resolutions in a way that they’ll last more than the first week of January.
1. Set SMART Goals. SMART is an acronym for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Sensitive and is a very popular tool used in business. The problem most people have with goal-setting is not making them specific enough. Example: “I want to exercise more”. Ok… more than what? If you set a goal that has specific criteria and constraints, then you will know when you’re achieving it. How do you know you’re exercising more? If you change that to “I want to exercise 3 times a week for 30 minutes each time” then you will know once you hit day 3 that you’re succeeding at your goal. The idea here is to remove any possible ambiguity that provides a “way out” of the goal.
2. Have an end goal in mind but set small goals that will eventually lead there. “I want to lose 50 pounds this year”. While a good goal, it’s also a large one and very daunting. Instead of focusing on this large of an objective, set smaller, achievable goals that create a road map to where you eventually want to be. “For the month of January, I will work on removing sugary drinks from my diet. For the month of February, I will add vegetables to every meal.” Small goals that are less intimidating and easier to achieve but eventually add up to the overall goal.
3. Positive, not Negative. Most resolutions people set require giving up things. Weight loss requires giving up tasty foods; spending less money requires giving up frivolous spending like gourmet coffee; and so on. It’s very easy to get caught up on the things we have to give up to achieve our goals, which we then start to rationalize as too constricting and then the resolutions fizzle out. Instead of thinking about what we have to give up, focus more on the positive aspects. Spending less money also gives you a chance to get creative with budgeting. Losing weight gives you a chance to try new food and experiment with unfamiliar ingredients. The more positive you are, the more likely you are to stick to your goals.
4. Ask for help if you get stuck. We all need a helping hand now and then. Sticking with the weight loss resolution, if you find yourself eating the same things because they’re tried and true recipes, ask your friends for their favorite healthy options. Search online or Pinterest for new things to try. Keep it fresh and exciting and you won’t suffer burn out.
New Year’s Resolutions are a chance to start over and make improvements we’ve been thinking about but you don’t have to wait for a new year to implement any type of change. You can always choose to reinvent yourself in a new way. The first step is always the hardest, but it gets easier.
Happy New Year and Happy Resolution Setting!