It’s estimated that more than half of all New Year’s resolutions fail, but that doesn’t have to be the case for you this time. Here’s how to identify the right resolution for you; how to create a plan and how to reach it.
Dream big and enjoy the journey
There’s nothing wrong with setting big, audacious New Year’s resolutions. It’s inspirational. It will give you a kick to get started. There’s just one caveat with that – don’t put your happiness on hold while you wait to achieve that goal. For example, many of us tend to have this ongoing issue with weight. We say, “When I lose five kilos, then I’ll be happy”. What a load of rubbish.
Set your goal, make it big and go for it, but be happy in the moment and on the journey to achieving it.
Know your ‘why’
What is your ‘why’? And do you care enough about this ‘why’ to make the changes necessary and stick to it during the inevitable tough times? Only when you truly understand yourself and the ‘job to be done’ will you achieve your health goals.
To help you more fully understand your ‘why’, start by asking yourself the right questions. And that’s harder than you think. As Richard Feynman, the famous physicist, once said: “The first principle is that you must not fool yourself and you are the easiest person to fool.”
Bottom line: If you want to achieve your goals then you are going to have to truly understand yourself. Why is this goal important to you?
Make your goal a SMART goal
SMART is an acronym for:
Your goal is well-defined and clear, e.g. –
“I’m going to train to do a 10km race in July.”
“I’m going to lose 5kg.”
“I’m going to reconnect with my siblings by calling them every month.”
…and not something vague about trying to eat healthier.
Set up specific criteria that measure your progress towards the goal, e.g. number of training session per week; weight lost each month; hours slept each night. Taking daily photos, logging progress into a journal or making notes on your phone can be helpful to track your progress.
Is this goal attainable and possible for you to achieve? Absolutely dream big, but is it reasonable to think you are going to be the same weight as you were in your 20s? Or be able to run a marathon in two months’ time? Trying to take too big a step too fast can leave you feeling frustrated.
This comes back to your ‘why’. Is this a goal that really matters to you, and are you making the resolution it for the right reasons?
The timeline toward reaching your goal should be realistic too. Give yourself enough time to get to your finish line, with lots of smaller goals set up along the way.
Break it down
Focus on (and celebrate) each small win and make gradual progress towards your big goal.
We often over-estimate what we can achieve in the short term, but we grossly under-estimate what we can achieve in the long term.
Dr Louise Schofield
Changing your habits, or introducing new healthy habits, is a lot easier if you have support from the people around you. Get your partner, family or a friend to work towards the same goal, whether it’s eating healthier, doing more exercise or spending more time together as a family.
If you fall off, get back on the horse
We’re all human. Despite our best intentions, we all slip up sometimes. The first step is acceptance that mistakes are going to happen. But just because you make one misstep doesn’t mean that you have to make a second, or a third.
If you’ve missed a smaller goal on the way or strayed off the path you’ve set for yourself – it’s okay. Just jump back on that horse. Keep galloping forward. Don’t use it as a reason or an excuse to let yourself off and think, “I might as well give up this goal”. To err is to be human and it’s entirely normal.
Be kind to yourself
So, worst case scenario – you didn’t reach the goal you had set for yourself in your New Year’s resolution. That doesn’t mean that you failed. Don’t beat yourself up about it. We can be very harsh when we talk to ourselves. Instead of thinking, “I blew it. What’s the point now?”, be kind to yourself. Think about what you’ve learnt, give yourself credit for trying, and encourage yourself to trying again. Remember, your goal doesn’t have to be a New Year’s resolution. You can start afresh anytime – how about tomorrow?
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