The confetti has fallen, the clock has struck midnight, you’ve already raised a glass to 2016—and now, suddenly, a fresh 12 months of promise is ahead.
It’s resolution time. Maybe you want to get healthy, lean up, bike more, hike more, eat more vegetables, eat less sugar—whatever the goal, generally, those hopes and wishes die by February 1st.
Why, exactly? Too many times well-meaning people bite off more than they can chew. The goals are not realistic. People are easily discouraged. And they think of resolutions as once-a-year wishes, instead of creating a culture of positive change in their lives to last the entire year (and well beyond, too).
Reframe your New Year’s resolutions by learning to set the right kind of goals and intentions—ones that spark positive steps toward the happy, healthy vision you have for your life. Here, experts spill how they coach their clients toward real change.
MAKE SURE IT’S SPECIFIC
If you have ever have started out the year with big resolutions that don’t last a week—they’re too big.
For a goal to stick it has to be specific and it has to be measurable. Say your goal is to eat healthier, then you need to break it down. Try starting small with something like, ‘I want to eat one piece of fruit everyday as dessert’ or ‘I want to eat a vegetable every night with dinner.’”
Then keep yourself accountable by recording your progress in a food log.
MAKE SURE IT’S REALISTIC
Some resolutions aren’t feasible for every person. Be honest with yourself. Cooking dinner at home four nights a week shouldn’t be your goal if you are constantly traveling for work—you want to be able to realistically achieve your goal.
Since obtaining goals creates positive energy, it’ll fuel more success and keep you on track. If you are constantly over-reaching or not being honest with yourself about the type of goals that may work best for you, you’ll miss the mark and get down on yourself. So switch up that goal from nightly meals at home to daily salads at lunch—which you can grab while you’re out, or make yourself when there’s time.
SHINE A POSITIVE LIGHT ON YOUR GOALS
“Putting in time” at the gym shouldn’t sound like a prison sentence. Try not to put such a negative spin on the positive developments in your life, like getting healthier or exercising. Saying to yourself, ‘I need to burn the turkey,’ ‘food guilt,’ and so on—is making negative promises to yourself and they won’t stick.
Walk into the gym knowing that 30 minutes there will lift your mood, not destroy your energy, and look for an activity you enjoy.
START WITH SMALL GOALS, AND THEN BUILD
Let’s say you really want to run a marathon or maybe you need to lose some weight or max out on your lifts. Although you might be motivated and excited, slow down the train. Don’t commit yourself to five times a week just yet.
Start small. Try to fit your goal activity in once a week. If you like what you’re doing, and you achieve your once-a-week marker, you can add more days into the mix. Find super-simple consistency, and you can build from there. And don’t forget to keep track of your exercise goals and progress.
MAKE A PLAN FOR YOUR RESOLUTION
It’s easy to get pumped about goal-setting, and forget about actual achievement in the hustle and bustle. Once you have determined what your goal will be, make a plan and post your plan in plain sight. Maybe you hang it on your mirror, maybe your refrigerator—but the visual reminder should include your goal, why you chose it, and a reminder of why quitting on yourself is not an option.
Listing the pros and cons of your choice can help.. Each time you begin to waver in your conviction to hit the gym, or read that novel instead of vegging in front of reality TV, remind yourself that your personal development is worth the extra investment.
KEEP RESOLUTIONS SEPARATE FROM FARTHER-REACHING GOALS
Resolutions should be like mini goals, or intentions. You can set them at any time throughout the year; think of them as the bite-sized chunks that fuel the larger vision you have for your life. This is actually very different from annual goal-setting.
At the beginning of the year, choose five solid goals that you want to achieve. Once you have them, set a plan for achieving each one.Your resolutions, or intentions, fit into that plan—which is why resolutions shouldn’t be restricted to New Year’s. Reevaluate your progress every 30 days to see if you’ve been moving in the direction of your larger goals.
Ask yourself questions like: ‘Did I start a path or plan to that goal? If not, what do I need to do? What might my path look like to get there?’” The more you recognize the presence of your larger goals, and task yourself to work toward them, the greater likelihood that you will remain successful.