Everyone seems to have a New Year’s resolution or three that they’ve set their target on. Lose weight, get fit, quit smoking, learn a new language… we typically set some pretty lofty goals, but rarely put a plan in place to make sure we achieve them.
This means that unless we are extremely lucky, we’re setting ourselves up for failure. Don’t believe me? It’s previously been reported that just 8% of people actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions.
Why don’t New Year’s resolutions stick?
It takes around six weeks of consistency to create a new habit. The problem most people come across with their New Year’s resolutions is that they get off to an amazing start all guns blazing, then reality sets in.
Work starts up again and you don’t have the time to focus on your goal any more. Your other half goes back to work and you don’t have as much support as you did to make it to the gym or to spend time researching healthy new meals. Stress returns and cigarettes seem like a necessary option again.
Most people don’t make it to the six week mark as there is no plan in place to get you through these tough obstacles that are normal in everyday life.
I’m not the biggest fan of New Year’s resolutions as I prefer to start goals as soon as I make my mind up to do something. Waiting until January 1 to start goals gives time to stray farther from them – how many people do you know who go on a last minute binge to eat as much food/drink as much alcohol/sit and watch television before starting on their new venture?
However, for those of us who don’t set aside much time for self reflection, the downtime of the holidays coinciding with the start of a new year can be a good time to figure out what we want to achieve over the year ahead.
If you’ve already made New Year’s resolutions, how do you make sure you’re one of the 8% who achieve them?
Make your goals S.M.A.R.T.E.R.
This goal-setting acronym is everywhere, but it’s with good reason; it works. To get anywhere with your goals, they should be:
Specific. The more specific the better. You want to lose weight; how much weight? Is that what’s actually important or is it to get fitter, stronger, healthier, be able to run up a flight of stairs without getting puffy, fit an old pair of jeans?
Measurable. How will you achieve your goal if it’s unmeasurable? You won’t know that you have reached your goal if there’s no set goal to reach. Even just saying you want to get ‘fitter’ is incredibly vague – think about whether you want to be able to run around the block without stopping, or complete 10 full pushups with perfect technique. This will give you a goal to work towards.
Achievable. If you can’t achieve your goal, you’ve set yourself up for failure from the beginning. This could mean taking a big goal and breaking it up into a series of mini goals (i.e. If you want to revamp your nutrition, aim to drink more water in the first week, add a daily multivitamin in the second week, keep building up your smaller habits rather than making enormous changes in one go).
Realistic. Want to get six-pack abs? This is sometimes dependent on genetics. It’s very dependent on having excellent nutrition. Is this realistic for you? It could be better instead to aim for great core strength, measurable by achieving certain abdominal exercises such as holding a hover plank for ‘x’ minutes. Fitting into an old pair of jeans may be a better goal for you than just picking a smaller size number out of thin air to work towards.
Time-bound. Give yourself a time frame to achieve your goals. This helps keep you motivated and on track as you have a date to work towards. Here’s where mini goals can help as well; going without cigarettes will seem a lot easier with a renewed week-to-week target that has a little reward each time (going to the movies, go shopping for a new item of clothing etc.) rather than ditching them for a month.
Evaluated. Is your original plan working? Have you been hitting your mini goals? What is working and what’s not? How can you change what you’re doing to improve?
Reviewed. If you’re not hitting your targets, it’s time to revise them for something more achievable. Reaching your goals can be incredibly motivating, but on the other side of things, not reaching them can be incredibly unmotivating.
What are your New Year’s resolutions? What has/hasn’t worked for you?
Image / NZ Real Health