Have you ever looked back on a year and through about the goals you had, but didn’t accomplish?
Maybe they were New Year’s resolutions?
Maybe they weren’t.
Maybe this year can be different?
According to researcher John Norcross and his colleagues, who published their findings in the Journal of Clinical Psychology, approximately 50 percent of the population make New Year’s Resolutions. Among the top goals to pursue are weight loss, more exercise, and quitting smoking. These are huge goals and have the potential for significant impact over a lifetime. Why, if they are so important, do they not seem to work?
Two reasons. First, they are a form of procrastination. By saying you will start something on January 1st, instead of say, now, you are putting off for tomorrow what you can do today. The second piece is the way you structure the goals. By making them specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) you inadvertently structure your goals so that you can quickly fail. These journeys to personal wellness do not have an annual review like your job. They are not restricted by time and should be structured so they create long-term behavioral changes. Does that mean you should not be specific? You absolutely should be. But being too specific might lead you to a place where you fail easily.
Here are 8 tips from Psychology Today, slightly edited to focus on weight loss and fitness:
1. Focus on one goal, rather than several, and set realistic milestones.
Losing weight is not enough of a focus. Cutting out junk food from your diet is getting closer. Not eating processes sugar everyday is even better.
2. Don’t wait till New Year’s Eve to make resolutions.
Make it a year-long process, every day; Remind yourself of your goal by writing it on the top page of your notebook, journal or by setting it as the background on your phone.
3. Take small steps.
Many people quit because the goal is too big requiring too much effort and action all at once; Break your goal down into manageable pieces. Small wins are still wins.
4. Have an accountability buddy.
Find someone, a family, a friend, a stranger with a similar goal to communicate with throughout your journey and to follow up with. The more community can help you remain accountable the more successful you will be.
5. Celebrate your success between milestones.
Don’t wait for the goal to be fully complete; If your goal is to lose 10 pounds, celebrate when you lose 5. You deserve it. Then keep going.
6. Focus your thinking on new behaviors and thought patterns.
You have to create new neural pathways in your brain to change habits; I will go to the gym every day… say it with me. Over and over again…
7. Focus on the present.
What’s the one thing you can do today, right now, towards your goal? A day is never wasted. Too much to eat in the AM? You can get back on track by lunch. I promise.
8. Be mindful.
Become physically, emotionally, and mentally aware of your inner state as each external event happens, moment-by-moment, rather than living in the past or future. How does it feel to eat right and exercise? Pretty darned good.