It’s that time of year….
The time when we pledge to do better & be better the next year, it’s time for New Years Resolutions.
I have a love/hate for New Years Resolutions. I think it’s a great idea to think of something you want to change in your life to make yourself better. But I hate that everyone thinks this only happens once a year. You really can make a pledge or promise to make a change at any time of the year.
The other problem I have with New Years Resolutions is that people make the wrong ones and don’t stick to them. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Psychology stated that only 8% of people are successful at achieving their New Years resolution. So let’s talk about how to make an effective New Years Resolution and how to stick to it!
What do most people do wrong?
Let’s think about a typical New Years resolution.
“I’m going to start working out”
“I’m going to lose weight”
“I’m going to be more organized”
What do they all have in common? They’re all general and vague.
How do you fix your resolution? Well, a good New Years resolution has 3 components:
#1. A specific goal
#2. An action plan to achieve the goal
#3. A timeline to evaluate and adjust the goal
These three components can be accomplished by writing a SMART goal.
S-Specific – State exactly what you want to achieve rather than an overall and general idea.
M-Measurable – Your goal should have a quality that is measurable so that you can determine if you have been successful or not.
A-Attainable – Think about whether your goal is achievable for you. Is it within your abilities/power to make this goal happen. What action plan are you setting up to achieve the goal?
R-Realistic– Do not set yourself up for failure. Consider your abilities, limits and barriers to change when choosing a goal. Set your goal for yourself, do not compare to others.
T-Timely- Set up a timeline to accomplish your goals and to evaluate/adjust your goals/plan.*
*When you initially set a goal it’s hard to determine if it will be realistic and attainable for you. If you set up a timeline to evaluate and adjust your goal, you can consider factors that kept you from achieving your goal and adjust those factors or adjust your goal. This way you continue with your goal rather than giving up on it. Or perhaps you underestimated yourself and you want to adjust your goal to a higher level.
So with these guidelines in mind lets revisit the resolutions I mentioned earlier and change them into smart goals.
#1: I’m going to start working out
Specific: Include what you plan to do. Either sign up for a gym membership, sign up for classes, buy home exercise DVDs, etc.
Measurable: Think about how often you plan to work out.
Attainable: Think about your action plan and how this goal will be possible for you. Can you afford a gym membership? Are there exercise classes at a local facility that you might enjoy? Do you have equipment available to you at home?
Realistic: Be realistic with your expectations. If you have never been to the gym before, making a goal to go 5 times a week may set you up for failure. Consider your current schedule, when do you have time to work out. What can you alter in order to give you time?
Timely: Think about a time when you will evaluate this goal and adjust if necessary.
Smart goal: I am going to sign up for a gym membership at my local gym. I am going to commit to 2 days a week of cardio (30 minutes) and 1 day a week of strength based training. In 3 months, I will evaluate my progress and adjust my goal or plan.
#2 I’m going to lose weight
Specific: What are you going to change in your life -diet, exercise, both?
Measurable: Do you have a specific weight loss goal? Is it a certain pair of pants you want to fit?
Attainable: Think about your lifestyle and what will work for you. What motivates you? Are you going to make changes to your family life or on your own? Who will you keep accountable to?
Realistic: Be realistic and healthy with the amount of weight you wish to lose and your timeframe.
Timely: Setting up a timeframe for weight loss can sometimes set you up for failure. For example, I will lose 10 pounds by February 1. If you do not achieve this you feel as though you failed and may give up. So a better approach is to set up a time for evaluation.
Smart Goal: I am going to start recording what I eat in a journal and reduce my portion sizes. My goal is to lose 1-2 pounds a week with an overall goal of losing 10 pounds. I will record my weight once a week and on March 1st I will evaluate and adjust my goal and plan as necessary.
#3 I’m going to be more organized:
Specific: What specifically do you want to organize in your life? Is it a calendar that contains everyone’s schedules, a cleaning schedule, a system for your bills, etc.
Measurable: How will you measure if you have been successful at organizing. A chart of activities that you complete can be helpful.
Attainable: If there are many areas you want to reorganize think about one at a time to make your goal more attainable. What changes do you need to make in your life to make this goal? Do you need any tools/help to achieve your goal?
Realistic: How likely are you to continue with your planned change. How will you make time to achieve your goal?
Timely: How often do you want to complete the activity or evaluate your goal.
Smart goal: I am going to purchase a whiteboard calendar with coloured markers. On the 1st of every month, I will sit down and write out every family members schedule and planned activities using a colour coded system.
Do you see the huge difference? Suddenly rather than a general idea, you have a specific goal and action plan. You are now set up for success.
A few other things to consider when making resolutions:
Many people say you shouldn’t make multiple resolutions. But I disagree with that advice. If you are making SMART goals that are small and realistic changes to your life I don’t see any reason you can’t make multiple resolutions.
Don’t expect that your life will drastically change because it’s a new year. You need to put in the effort to make changes. If you’re not ready to make the change in your lifestyle, seek out alternative goals. Setting realistic and small goals will make effective changes in your life compared to setting out unattainable goals.
Success vs Failure:
Never give up on yourself and your goals. If you set out a goal to attend the gym 3 times per week and the second week of January, you only went twice. Don’t fret! That’s not a failure, consider that it’s two times more than you were going before.
Also consider the evaluation and adjustments of your goals. If going to the gym three times a week becomes unattainable for you and your schedule, adjust your goals. Perhaps, you can add a walk in once a week instead of a gym session or maybe you simply change your goal to going to the gym 2 times per week. This allows you to continue with your goals and feel successful rather than feeling like a failure and giving up entirely.
So I’ve written an entire post on resolutions, so you must be wondering, what’s my New Years Resolutions?
#1 Get over my resistance to running outside during winter by signing up for the March 22 Run for L’Arche Half-Marathon. Create a new workout training schedule for January -March that includes half marathon training and continues with my new rules of lifting for women program. Goal to complete the half marathon in 2:15.
#2 Increase water intake to a minimum of 1500 mL (2 Contingo water bottles) daily. Record intake using My Fitness Pal. Evaluate number of days target achieved at the end of each week.
#3 Make a habit of taking my vitamins daily. Fill a pill container at the beginning of every week and take my vitamins with breakfast.
Are you guilty of general resolutions? What resolutions are you making for 2014?