Making New Year’s resolutions always comes from a good place – a desire to better ourselves or our communities. But more often than not, those resolutions are too broad or too vague and leave a huge opportunity for failure. This year, change your mind set and ditch the resolutions in exchange for simple, straight forward goals.
MAKE IT MEASURABLE (AND MANAGEABLE)
Want to lose weight? How about losing 10 pounds in three months instead? We guarantee you’ll be way less likely to let your gym membership go to waste when you’ve got a measurable, attainable goal within reach. And above all else, take it one day at time. This can be applied to virtually any resolution; for example telling yourself that you want to save money is good and all, but telling yourself you’re going to save $500 in two months is so much better.
GOALS NEED TO BE REALISTIC
Few people will have the exact same goals – that’s simply because we all lead different lives with different commitments. Your goal needs to work for you, and most importantly it needs to easily fit into your daily routine or else it’s probably not going to stick. Furthermore, you need to know why your goals are important to you right now. You know yourself best, so use that knowledge to set goals that are attainable. Committing to Spin every Friday night when you know you’re always wiped after a long work week probably isn’t going to work. But how about Saturday morning? You can do it!
Break big dreams into small-enough steps
Now think tiny. Small steps move you forward to your ultimate goal. Look for surefire bets. Just getting to first base can build your confidence to tackle — and succeed at — more difficult tasks. Don’t disdain easy choices. If you start every plan with “Make list,” you’re guaranteed to check one box off quickly. That’s no joke: a study on loyalty programs that aim to motivate consumers found giving people two free punches on a frequent-buyer card encouraged repeat business. So break hard jobs down into smaller line items, and enjoy breezing through the easy tasks first.
TELL YOUR LOVED ONES
In part, this can hold you accountable, but it’s also important that those closest to you understand what you’re committing to as it may impact your relationships. If you’ve gone to Sunday brunch with your girlfriends every weekend for the last two years but suddenly cancel because your goal is to save money – they’re going to have some questions. Better still, try working with them to help you succeed. Turn that brunch out into a schedule for hosting a rotating get-together instead.
START FROM A PLACE OF STRENGH
Think of a time in your life where you set a goal, committed to it, and succeeded. Think about how you felt when you reached that point and use that memory to kick start your journey. If you can remember that sense of accomplishment, you’ll be all that more driven to reach your new goals too.
PLAN FOR SET BACKS
More likely than not, you’re going to have an off day, or off week somewhere in the run of things. And that’s ok. Sometimes unexpected things come up, but as long as you don’t let it totally derail you, you can get back on track in no time. Remember, two steps forward and one step back is still going forward! And sometimes, it’s those set backs that can push you all that much harder.
Learn from the past. Any time you fail to make a change, consider it a step toward your goal. Why? Because each sincere attempt represents a lesson learned. When you hit a snag, take a moment to think about what did and didn’t work. Maybe you took on too big a challenge? If so, scale back to a less ambitious challenge, or break the big one into tinier steps. If nailing down 30 consecutive minutes to exercise never seems to work on busy days, break that down by aiming for three 10-minute walks — one before work, one during lunch, one after work — or a 20-minute walk at lunch plus a 10-minute mix of marching, stair climbing, and jumping rope or similar activities slipped into your TV schedule.
REMIND YOURSELF OF ALL OF THE BENEFITS
Use every opportunity to inspire yourself and make you feel good with all of the positive aspects for your goal. If you want to lose weight, you get to learn more about nutrition. If you’re giving up alcohol, you’ll have far fewer headaches. There’s always an upside, even when you want to give in, so use that to fuel you!
CELEBRATE YOUR OWN SUCCESSES – DAILY!
Even the littlest accomplishments are worth celebrating. Toot your own horn and be proud of yourself! You are further along today than you were yesterday, and that’s real progress. Think of yourself as someone who sets and achieves goals each day and you’ll be more successful.
Creating new habits.
Creating new habits takes time and energy. A new behavior won’t become automatic overnight, but you may enjoy some of its benefits fairly quickly. Also, as you start to take walks regularly or engage in stress-soothing practices frequently, you’ll find you won’t feel quite right if you stop. That’s a great incentive to continue. So, keep nudging yourself in the direction you’d like to go.
Give thanks for what you do
Forget perfection. Set your sights on finishing that marathon, not on running it. If you compete to complete, you’ll be a winner even if you wind up walking as much as you run. With exercise — and so many other goals we set — you’ll benefit even when doing less than you’d like to do. Any activity is always better than none. If your goal for Tuesday is a 30-minute workout at the gym, but you only squeeze in 10 minutes, feel grateful for that. It’s enough. Maybe tomorrow will be better.