A brand-new decade, an even better me? New Years is usually a time for reflection and optimism for the next year, or even for the next decade – it’s going to be better this time around! Are you someone who takes the opportunity of this proverbial “blank slate” to set one, two, ten… resolutions? According to Statista, the most common resolution for 2019 was to diet or to eat healthier – not too surprising, right?! A close second place resolution was to exercise more. These were tied for first in 2018 with saving money. The focus for a healthier year remains on people’s minds. So why does the same thing happen year after year? January hits and gym are packed! The diet industry is advertising at a fever pitch. You see more green juice, detox teas and celebrity-endorsed cleanses. And what about the exercise equipment/device/gadget that you just MUST buy – immediately?! By March all of this had dissipated, as well as your motivation. What gives? Three words for you: unrealistic goal setting.
Let's Get S.M.A.R.T.
When surveyed at the end of 2018, only 4% of individuals said they kept all their resolutions. The other 96% of us can attribute our failed achievement to not having a S.M.A.R.T. goal from the beginning of the year. A S.M.A.R.T. goal is holistic and can “see into your future” to hedge for life challenges and obstacles. For example: “After 4 weeks from today, I want to weigh 6 pounds lighter”. Let’s break down this resolution using the acronym S.M.A.R.T.:
- Specific: Both 4 weeks and 6 pounds are exact.
- Measurable: The weight on day one compared to the last day is objective.
- Attainable: It is recommended to lose between 1-2 pounds a week for sustained loss.
- Relevant: Starting to lose weight will help me achieve my final health goal
- Time-bound: Four weeks is a set deadline that can be marked on the calendar.
Rome wasn’t built in a day. And whatever you are working on probably didn’t start yesterday – likely it is something you have been working on/dealing with for quite some time. Setting small, realistic goals a few weeks at a time will set you up for long-lasting change, just like taking a major project one step at a time. Once you have finalized your S.M.A.R.T. goal it’s time to prepare for the inevitable fall off the horse. This could come in the form of eating a diet of strictly donuts and champagne for a week or skipping your workouts for another week. Do NOT beat yourself up over this, we all go through loss of motivation! And those donuts probably tasted really good. Let it go, it is in the past and you are living in the present. Get right back to your goal and focus on micro-changes. Whether it is going for a 10-minute walk during lunch, or simply always eating 1 green vegetable at dinner, or adding 3 extra glasses of water per day – start super small and slowly build back up. The faster you get back to what you are working on, the better you will feel, and easier it will be to stay on track.
Who’s Got Your Back?
Asking for support is an underestimated resource. Our support system can help to motivate us and asking for help also builds stronger relationships. Having nights when you cook healthful meals with your family or friends or recruiting a gym buddy can greatly improve your chances of sticking to a goal. Accountability to someone else can change your mindset from wanting to do something to needing to do something. Tracking your development on social media can be a way to find support in others, even if they are not local and visualize progress along the way. In the case of the S.M.A.R.T. goal mentioned before, taking pictures each week could eventually be compiled into a year’s worth of change!
Live in the Now
What better time to change than now? Because the truth is, all we have is right now. Motivation comes in waves; change can start in a moment. This means, we can make our resolutions, our S.M.A.R.T. goals, any day. Change takes work but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Just think, you can be a part of the 4% who follow through on making a lifelong change.