Where do you stand with your New Year’s resolution? Are you still hanging in, or have you thrown in the towel? Did you know that almost 80% of people abandon their resolutions before the second week in January? So, if this is you, you’re not alone.
The important thing to remember is that even if you’ve faltered, it doesn’t mean that you must wait another 11 months to get started again. There is nothing magical about the start of a new calendar year—or a Monday either–when it comes to working toward become the next version of yourself.
So, how do you increase your chances for success this new time? To get started, let’s look at one of the main problems with resolutions and goals in general—that most of us start with a vague goal in mind—”I want to lose weight”, or “I want to start meditating” or “I want to eat better”. While on the surface, these sound like worthy goals, they don’t have enough depth to allow us to be successful in the long run.
If I just say that I want to lose weight, the goal is unclear—when do I want to lose weight? How much weight do I want to lose–5 pounds, 10? How am I going to do it? Eating less—and what exactly does less mean? Am I going to exercise, for how long, when, and what kind of workout(s) do I want to do?
How do we overcome this?
Start with a SMART goal:
Specific – Be as precise as you can when setting a goal. So, rather than saying that you want to get in shape, you might say that you want to be able to run/walk a 5k or buildup to doing 50 push ups.
Measurable – How will you gauge your progress? Options could be losing a certain amount of weight or going down a clothing size.
Achievable – The goal should be realistic and attainable. Your goal shouldn’t be super easy, but it shouldn’t be too hard either. If the goal is too easy, you may not be motivated, but if it’s too hard, you might give up before you even get started. A pitfall I’ve seen with some people is being overzealous with weight loss. In general, 1 – 2 pounds of weight loss is the safe and healthy way to go. So rather than setting a goal of losing 20 pounds in a month, four to eight pounds would be a more attainable goal.
Relevant – Your goal should be fitting for your interests and abilities, and for your current situation. For instance, if you’re not currently running regularly, choosing to run a marathon in three months wouldn’t be the best idea–even if you were a runner five years ago. A better option would be to start a couch to 5k program where you gradually go from walking to running and building up in distance.
Time-based – When do you want to complete this goal? Give yourself an end date, and milestones along the way.
An example of a SMART goal for weight loss would be, “I want to lose 30 pounds in 4 months by reducing my caloric intake 500 calories per day and walking 30 minutes 4 days per week and strength training two times a week for 45 minutes each .”
The above goal combines all the important aspects of a goal, and by doing so it sets you up for success. It gives you a road map and a way to measure your progress.
Other Keys to Reaching Your Goal
Stay Connected to Your WHY
We discussed having a specific goal–your “what”. But WHY is your goal important to you? If you want to lose 30 pounds, your reason might be so you can be more active with your kids and lower your chance of developing diabetes.
From these you can create an anchor statement such as, “I am an active, healthy person who feels comfortable in my body.”
Once you’ve created your anchor statement, write it on a sticky note. Put it on your bathroom mirror, your refrigerator, your steering wheel—anywhere that you will see it repeatedly to remind you of your WHYs. This is an important step because if you lose sight of the reason behind your goal, it can make it that much harder to take the steps to work toward achieving the goal.
A specific goal like the one above is a good starting point. You also need to make it so easy that you almost can’t fail. If you want to walk 30 minutes four days per week, get out your calendar and add the days and times that you plan on walking. Add in the days and times of your strength workouts as well—and include the activities that you’ll do or a favorite workout video.
If you just say “tomorrow,” guess what—it often gets put off all day with work, chores, and other activities. Before you know it, it’s the end of the day, and your workout gets pushed to tomorrow again. Remember: if it doesn’t get planned, it doesn’t get done.
OK, so, once you’ve figured out when you want to go for your walks, start small–maybe 5 minutes the first day, and then slowly building up to 30 minutes four times per week. Put out your workout clothes and running shoes the night before. Prep anything else you’ll need so that you don’t have to go searching for things. Remember, you want to make getting started EASY. The action shouldn’t be so big that you have to get motivated to do it. Then take baby step after baby step to get there. According to James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, if you make a 1% improvement every day, those small improvements add up over time so that by the end of the year, you’ll make a gain of more than 37%. That’s a big result for a little bit of change every day.
Belonging to a group of people who have the same goal automatically increases your likelihood of achieving your goal. There is power in being part of a dynamic group of people working toward similar goals—especially if there are opportunities to meet live or to be part of online group coaching sessions. We begin to learn that we’re not alone in our struggles or feeling the way that we do. We also start to see that by sharing our successes and setbacks that we can help others. The achievements of the individuals start to feed the accomplishments of all. When you’re in a group, there’s also a measure of accountability. The others in the group will be engaged in your progress and cheer you along the way.
Getting Started Again
So, if you want to start working toward that SMART goal you created, and you need a little help along the way, schedule your free Wellness Conversation today!