It’s the first week of the new year, and it’s not too late to set your goals and resolutions for 2017 (let’s be honest, it’s never too late to set new goals and resolutions for yourself so really this post is applicable year round). When setting and sticking to new goals, it is easy to feel lost, overwhelmed or even a little bit hopeless about bettering ourselves and determining what we want to accomplish moving forward. Today we are talking about how to set goals and resolutions you’ll actually want and be able to keep and the mechanisms to put in place to make sure your goals and resolutions become a reality.
I know I want to be better in 2017, but I’m not exactly sure how to set resolutions I can actually keep. Help!!
Keep your resolutions simple. Choose carefully, being realistic and specific.
The best approach is to focus clearly on one or two of your most important goals. It can be overwhelming to aim for a complete lifestyle overhaul, which can lead to a lot of disappointment and guilt when resolutions and goals are not followed through or achieved. It may be hard to narrow down your goals when 2017 self-improvement is on your mind and talked about seemingly everywhere, but experience shows that these things can’t be done or achieved all at once.
When choosing your goal, try not to aim too high and be as realistic as possible. It is so important to remember that there will always be more opportunities for setting new goals/resolutions once we have achieved the ones we set now, so don’t worry about setting all your goals at once. If you want to avoid getting lost in these bigger, possibly unrealistic goals, set clear short-term goals on your way to a big achievement.
So what do we need to do when setting these realistic goals? Be specific. Instead of saying you are going to eat healthy or get in shape, explain what these actually mean to you. Do you want to eliminate certain foods from your diet, find a more balanced diet, or something else? Do you want to lose weight, change your body composition, or achieve a goal such as running a race or lifting a certain weight? Experts recommend that when choosing a specific goal in thee areas, it is important to focus on those that will have the greatest impact on your happiness, health and fulfillment.
So it’s the first week of January and I’ve set my New Year’s resolutions, now what?!
Create bite-sized portions/ break it up.
Break goals down to manageable chunks. This is perhaps the most essential ingredient for success, as the more planning you do now, the more likely you are to get there in the end. If, for example, you’re goal is to run a marathon this year, break this into smaller and more manageable goals. Instead set a goal of being able to run a 10K by March and go for a run once a week until then. Once that goal is accomplished, set another manageable and realistic goal to get you one step closer to your ultimate goal. The same applies if you want to get to the gym more often. If you currently don’t workout at all, make your first goal to get to the gym twice a week. After a month of working out twice a week, increase your goal.
Plan a time-frame.
In fact, the time-frame is vital for motivation. It is an excellent want to measure your success, the way you assess your short-term progress towards the ultimate long-term goal. Buy a calendar or diary so you can plan your actions for the coming weeks or months, and decide when and how often to evaluate.
“If you can measure it, you can change it” is a fundamental principal of psychology. Measuring progress (whether this be progress photographs, looking back at how many healthy meals you have cooked per week, or counting how many books you have read in the past few months) can help you to know when you are hitting a plateau or slipping backward, so you can adjust your efforts.
Share your goals with friends and family. Social support is beyond critical. While it definitely takes some personal courage and vulnerability to share something that you might actually fail at but to dramatically increase your odds of success you’ll want support from those around you (trust me here, babes, this is one of my biggest fears but it is so worth it). One of the most effective things you can do is to get an “accountability partner”, someone who checks in with you daily or weekly. This can be someone who either shares your goals with you and joins in on the workouts/healthy eating/whatever it may be or someone who knows or and supports your goal that you’ll have a hard time disappointing when asked about your progress.
Nobody finds time to do something, we choose time. We all choose to spend our time the way we do—whether that’s eating candy for dinner or going to a hot yoga class. Make your new goals a priority and actually schedule them into your calendar. If you have a fitness goal schedule recurring time blocks for your daily workouts. Want to declutter your life? Schedule time to clean out your closet or apartment on your calendar. Treat these New Year Resolution’s appointments just like they were scheduled work meetings or doctors appointments. You rarely reschedule your work obligations or doctor, you should treat your goals and the time put aside for them the same way. Don’t cancel on yourself!
Something is better than nothing.
I know I can be guilty of “all or nothing” thinking, but it can honestly be so detrimental to achieving your goals and resolutions. It is so easy to get caught up in the mentality that if you miss your workout you might as well as French fries for dinner, or that if you have one bad day, you may as well wait until next week to restart your workouts and healthy eating. But research has shown that the difference between doing something rather than nothing can be huge. For example, if you don’t have a full hour to workout at the gym, just decide to make it the best 20-minutes you can. If you eat one bad meal, have some extra veggies at your next one. Any effort towards your goal is better than no effort.
Put yourself in charge.
Your goals and achievements are under your control; while other people can advise and support you, it’s your actions that need to change to see the results you want. Having a strong sense of control and ownership over your life is necessary to stick with your resolutions.
Don’t give up!
While slip-ups and setbacks are pretty much inevitable at some point, don’t let these events became an excuse to give up completely on yourself. When these things happen, you will need to find some inner strength, reflect on what you’ve accomplished so far, and make sure you don’t become too critical of yourself. Not only will these steps help you find the motivation and strength to continue pushing forward, but people with higher self-esteem and confidence are generally in a much better position to succeed. Be resilient and don’t let temporary failures or setbacks be excuses for giving up, instead acknowledge what happened and recommit towards your goals or resolutions.