As you gear up for another exciting New Year, you might find yourself in the familiar territory of making resolutions in the hope that they somehow stick. You know the drill – enthusiastic promises to hit the gym regularly, eat more greens, lose that extra weight, get more organised, or maybe cut back on alcohol.
How often have those January aspirations fizzled out by the time February rolls around? It's a tale as old as time – the grand intentions, the initial burst of motivation, and then... well, life happens.
It’s not just you. New Year is a time of hope and anticipation, and it genuinely is a really good time to think about how you want your life to be in the coming year. However, the fact that there is already a day set aside each year – it’s called Quitters Day – for the collapse of New Year resolutions, shows that many of us struggle to stick to our good intentions. It’s the second Friday of January every year. . . 12th January in 2024.
The fitness app Strava conducted some research back in 2019 that showed 80% of those who made resolutions had given up by the end of the month and that the second Friday in January was when most started their inevitable decline.
Why can’t we stick to our New Year resolutions?
You can probably imagine the biggest problems and I am sure you will have experienced them for yourself at some stage or another.
The initial resolution was over-ambitious.
You start off filled with enthusiasm but couldn’t maintain the same level of commitment.
I’d like to offer a potential solution to both in a moment. To offer a little branch of hope right now, there is also a New Year’s Resolution Recommitment Day, which is perfect for anyone who slipped in January and needs an official day to get back to their goals.
Do you struggle to stick to your goals?
If you struggle to stick to goals, you’ll benefit from re-visiting your goal-setting strategy. Knowing what you want is just the first step – knowing how to get there is as – if not more – important.
So how do you set goals that lead to success?
You might already have heard about SMART goals but making them SMARTER is even better (and a lot more fun). This means setting goals that are:
The goal must be clear and concise. Vague goals, such as “I want to get healthy” don’t tell you, or anyone else, what you are aiming for. This makes it difficult to know when you’ve reached the goal. It might be worth looking at things like being able to fit into a specific pair of trousers or being able to get to the end of that 5k run without stopping – or other specific activities like getting out on a walk or doing some guided meditation.
The goal must contain measurable criteria for tracking progress. If your goal isn’t specific, you can’t measure it. Ensure your goal has a clear measurable component that you can track to see how close you are to the desired end point. If you are thinking about weight loss, the scale and the tape measure will be needed. You might well want to use both – sometimes the number on the scale doesn’t give the full picture. Or you might be measuring how long you can run, how many Zumba classes you attend, how many times you listen to a sleep story.
The goal must be practically possible, yet still challenging. This is something to bear in mind if you tend to have lofty plans. It’s a balance of being able to actually do it and it being sufficiently challenging to motivate you to spend time and energy pursuing it. For example, if you want to run a marathon and find it relatively easy to get outdoors to run but regularly only run 10km, the goal might be achievable and challenging. If you don’t currently run and never have…
The goal must be realistic in the long term. It is important to ask yourself, “can I actually do this?” and “is it realistic given my current circumstances?”. Not in a self-doubting kind of way, but in a rational, carefully thought-through way. Thinking about goals that might relate to losing weight or exercise, there is a sweet spot between setting goals that feel a bit of a stretch and setting those that are over-optimistic or that require time that you just don’t have.
The goal should be grounded within a specific timeframe. When will you do this by? Having a scheduled completion date greatly increases your odds of reaching your goals. When you know your cut-off date, you know how to pace yourself and prioritise your time, energy, and resources. It can really help focus your energies and keep you motivated as you check in with yourself towards the end of the timeframe. A bit like that extra burst athletes get at the end of the race as they sprint towards the finish.
And now come the BEST bits…
The goal must be enticing and inspiring. Does the thought of the goal excite you? Many people pursue goals because they feel they ‘must’, ‘should’, or because others want them to, rather than because they truly want to achieve the goal. Make sure your goal energises you and is personally motivating. Focus on what will be possible for you when you reach your goal. How will it really feel when you achieve what you set out to do? I want you to get really fired up by your goal!
The goal must offer a clear reward. This can be an extrinsic reward (something tangible such as money, awards, savings, or prizes), or intrinsic (joy, happiness, mastering a skill, or satisfaction of a job well done). If you aren’t getting some benefit or reward for reaching your goal, your motivation is likely to dip. How will you reward yourself? What will feel like a real win? Remember, since we’re in the world of wellness, I’m not talking about having a big blow-out at the end of a diet but something more nourishing of the soul…
You can complete the following statements/questions to help you set your goals:
• My goal is...
• It is clear and specific in the following way...
• How will I know if I’ve achieved it? I can measure success in the following way...
• My goal is realistic because...
• What are my time frames? By when will I have achieved this goal?
• What is exciting about this goal? What inspires me?
• What are the rewards? How will this benefit me and my life when I have achieved it?
Fascinating facts about New Year resolutions
1. New Year Resolutions have deep – and religious – roots
The Romans used to start each year by making promises to the god Janus. They made sacrifices in apology for the previous year’s mistakes and promised to be good the following year. The early Christians would start their year meditating on past transgressions and thinking of how they could do better.
2. Westerners are most likely to make resolutions
Making resolutions is most common in the Western world but also can be found in Eastern countries.
3. New Year IS a good time to work on your goals
Studies show those who make New Year’s resolutions are ten times more likely to succeed than those who decide to make life changes at other times of the year.
4. You can make resolutions stick with proper goal setting
According to studies, the most effective way to achieve a New Year’s resolution is by setting specific goals.
Research shows you’re more likely to stick to a goal that is action-oriented rather than an avoidance-oriented goal (58.9% versus 47.1%).
Every goal is easier to achieve with support. Perhaps you see it as a form of motivation if you insist on going it alone. Wouldn’t it be great to prove to others or yourself that you can do it? It certainly would, but why struggle? Why not make your life easier by getting support?
The Fix: Book a complimentary call with me
Let’s work together to tackle all aspects of what I’ve been talking about above. I’ll bring the knowledge of what to eat for your goals, and support you to create healthy habits that last. I’ll also be your cheerleader if you experience any barriers or setbacks that look like they might stand in the way of you achieving your goals. Now is exactly the right time for you to become the very best version of yourself: new way to eat, new attitude and new healthy lifestyle habits.
Book your free 30 minute mini consultation with me here - www.calendly.com/michelledeanhealth
Wishing you a happy & healthy year ahead!