Here we are, almost ¼ of the way through the new year already! How are those New Year’s resolutions going? If you are like most people, they are all but forgotten. In fact, studies show that approximately 80% of resolutions set at the new year will be abandoned by the end of February. If you’re one of the 80%, I invite you to dust off that goal and try again. After all, you did want to make that life altering change just two and a half short months ago. Chances are its still something that would be beneficial. The trick is, figuring out how to make it a change that will stick. With a little bit of information about human nature and an examination of that goal and why you abandoned it, it is not too late to rekindle that goal and make it a reality in 2020, after all, there is still ¾ of a year left to get it done. Let’s dig into why it failed first.
The most likely reason for failing a resolution is, it was too big or too vague. When we set an intention to do something, like lose weight for example, we fail to realize that is not actually a goal. Goals need specifics. How much do you want to lose? When do you want to lose that weight by? How are you going to get there? When the goal is an arbitrary “I want to lose weight” statement, you set yourself up to fail. First and foremost because there is no defined goal. How will you know when you’ve hit it?
Redefine that goal. Be specific. Set a deadline. Include how you plan to get there as well as why you want to get there in the goal. For example, fixing that I want to loose weight goal might look something like this; “I want to lose 15 pounds by June 1st, by eating right and exercising because I want to fit in that gorgeous cocktail dress in my closet.” Now, that is a goal, it is defined, specific, measurable, and achievable. You have mapped out not only specifically what you want and when you want it, but how you intend to get there. That is a formula for success.
Once you have redefined the goal, with that measurable outcome in mind, the next step for setting up for success is going to be taking a look at what has gone wrong when trying to tackle it before. Chances are, this isn’t your first time trying to break that bad habit or set those healthy behaviors. You’ve likely tried and failed several times before. That is a good thing, it can help you figure out what is derailing the efforts to change. So, take a little time to think back to your last attempt at changing this, what went wrong? What went right? Once you know what is likely to hold you back, you can make a plan to avoid it. With what works for you and was doesn’t in mind, you can fine tune that goal a bit more, making it even more specific.
Now that you have thought a bit about what has and hasn’t worked in the past, it’s time to break that goal and plan down even further. Set some mini goals (checkpoints) based on the larger goal. Break that weight loss down, set a date to have gotten partway to that goal. Reward yourself and be proud when you get there, it might not be the total change you promised yourself but it’s a sign you are on the road to change, be proud, celebrate how far you have come. If you get to that checkpoint and find you have not met the set goal, take some time to think about why you have not been able to get it done. Was the goal realistic? Did you follow through with your plan? What caused you to go off track and miss the checkpoint? Recalculating the course at this point will help you reach that final goal.
A word about rewards. Be careful about what you choose to reward yourself with. If the reward for weeks of clean eating is a big ole slice of cake, your reward is negating your goal. By calling cake a reward, you are sending the clear signal to your brain that clean eating is not what you want, cake is! That kind of thinking will not help you set the healthy new habit you are working on. Rewards should be directly related to goals, even better if they are something you can only do because you’ve been killing it hitting that goal.
A cute new dress when you hit that weight loss milestone, a handy kitchen gadget to make prepping those healthy meals more fun, a trip using the money you’ve saved by giving up that expensive smoking habit. When my stepfather quit smoking, he saved what he’d spend on cigarettes each week, and used it to purchase a truck. Talk about a reward! Be sure the rewards you choose support the goals you have set. You can still have that piece of cake now and then, just remember, it’s a TREAT, not a reward!
So, you’ve got a specific, measurable goal, you’ve thought about how to get there, what gets in the way, and how to reward yourself when you do, you’ve set smaller checkpoint goals to keep you focused and motivated, to help you appreciate your progress. You are ready to tackle that resolution again. Start today. Your healthy new habit is waiting.