How To Make A New Years Resolution A Success
Matt Paterson (B.Ex & Sport Sci)
When’s the last time you set and stuck to a New Year’s resolution?
If you struggle to make lasting changes, you’re not alone. The majority of people fail to keep their resolutions all year long, and 80 percent have given up on them by February.
Do you want to make sure you finally stick to your New Year’s resolutions? Here are some tips for practical goal setting that will help you to make progress and improve your health.
One Thing at a Time
You don’t have to overhaul your whole life on January 1. In fact, in most cases, trying to do so is a recipe for disaster.
If you say you’re going to start exercising, stop drinking soda, start meditating, and stop eating sugar all at once, there’s a good chance you’re going to feel overwhelmed. You’re also, more likely than not, going to have a hard time keeping up with all the changes you want to make.
Instead of trying to change your whole life, pick one thing that you want to improve. Maybe it’s exercise, maybe it’s your sleep habits.
Start with that one change, whatever it is. Then, once you’re happy with the progress you’re making in that area, you can add in something else.
Some people will shake their heads at this approach. They’ll assume that moving this slowly means they won’t make any progress.
It’s true that it might take longer to see results with the slow-and-steady method. However, the results you do see will be more likely to last long-term than they would if you dove in headfirst, got overwhelmed, and then gave up altogether.
Set SMART Goals
When you’re setting New Year’s resolutions, make them SMART.
SMART is an acronym. It stands for:
Let’s say you want to lose weight in the New Year. If that’s all you write down for your resolution, you’re going to have a harder time sticking with it than if you use the SMART framework.
What might a SMART weight loss goal look like? Here’s an example: By June 30, 2021, I want to lose 10kgs.
The goal of losing 10kgs is specific and easy-to-measure (you just have to step on the scale to track your progress). It’s realistic (or attainable) to lose 10kgs in a six-month time span, and you have a clear end date in mind, making this a time-bound goal. This goal is results-focused, too, since you have a clear outcome that you’re aiming for.
Break It Down
Once you have a clear goal for your New Year’s resolution, break it down into chunks to make it more manageable.
This helps you to avoid procrastination. If you say you want to lose 10 kg's by June 30 and then don’t do anything until June 1, you’re going to have a much harder time achieving that goal unless you go to extreme (and unsustainable) lengths.
Take your big goal and break it down into several mini-goals. If you want to lose 10 kg's in six months, you would need to lose 1.6kg per month. That’s less than half a kilo a week.
Make a Plan
After breaking down your goal, the next step is to make a plan for how you’re going to accomplish it.
Are you going to count calories? Go on a special diet? How many days per week are you going to exercise? What kinds of workouts are you going to do? How long are your workouts going to be?
Answering questions like these will help you to make your goal more specific. It’ll give you practical steps to follow to achieve it, too.
Identify Your “Why”
Why do you want to achieve a particular goal? What’s the motivation behind wanting to lose weight, exercise more, or stick to any other New Year’s resolution?
You’ll have an easier time following through with your goals if you know why you’re trying to accomplish them. When you’re choosing a New Year’s resolution, sit down and think about your motives.
Let’s use weight loss as an example again. Why do you want to lose 10 kgs? Will it improve your heart health? Will it give you more energy to play with your kids?
Everyone’s “why” is different. There’s no right or wrong here. It is important for you to know what’s driving you, though, so you can stay motivated and focused.
Find an Accountability Partner
Speaking of motivation and focusing, it can be easier to stick to your New Year’s resolutions if you have an accountability partner.
Find someone, like a friend, family member, or coworker, who has the same goals as you. Maybe they also want to lose weight or eat more vegetables. Then, ask them if they’d like to team up and work together to achieve those goals.
Once you have a partner secured, figure out a way that you’ll stay in touch and hold each other accountable. Will you send check-in texts after every workout? Will you share screenshots of your food journals at the end of the day or the end of the week?
Find an accountability tactic that works for both of you and that you can sustain until you both reach your goals.
Saying that you’re going to work out together six days per week when you both work full-time and have kids probably isn’t realistic. Saying that you’ll send a screenshot of your fitness tracker after you finished your workout is more doable.
Remove Stumbling Blocks
You’re always going to run into obstacles when you’re trying to achieve a goal. Obstacles are inevitable. However, there are steps you can take to minimize them.
Think about what’s held you back from trying to achieve a specific goal in the past. Why have your weight loss efforts failed before? What can you do differently this time?
If you had trouble getting to the gym in the past, maybe you can invest in some at-home workout equipment. This removes the obstacle of having to wake up extra early and drive to the gym before work.
If you had trouble eating healthy food and ended up going through the drive-through every night, maybe you can find a healthy meal prep company that delivers pre-made, low-calorie meals right to your door.This removes the obstacle of having to spend time preparing food when you already have a busy schedule.
Another stumbling block a lot of people struggle with is snacking after tea & craving deserts. Try eliminating these urges by preparing either a healthy snack or protein shake to have during these times.
Remember, one of the key tenets of a SMART goal is that it’s measurable. Make sure you’re actually measuring your progress once you set your goal in motion, though.
If you never weigh yourself, you’re going to have a hard time knowing if you’re actually on track with your resolution. When making a plan to accomplish your goal, include plans for how frequently you’re going to measure your progress.
Are you going to weigh yourself once a week? Use a smartwatch to track your sleep or the number of steps you take per day?
When you do measure your progress, write down the results you’re seeing, too.
If you don’t like the number on the scale or aren’t meeting your daily step goal, don’t just sweep it under the rug and hope it changes. Assess the trends and make adjustments if needed so you can get back on track or keep making progress.
When you hit a milestone on the way to your big goal, celebrate it. When you lose five kgs, for example, treat yourself to a mini reward.
This helps you to keep your motivation up as you move forward. It makes the big goal seem more attainable, too.
When you’re celebrating, just be sure you don’t celebrate in a way that sabotages your progress. If you lose five pounds and celebrate with an entire cheesecake, that’s not exactly creating a new and healthy habit, is it?
Ditch the “All or Nothing” Mentality
Whether you’re interested in weight loss, muscle gain, healthier eating, or making any other type of change in the new year, do your best to ditch the “all or nothing” mentality.
This way of thinking causes many people to struggle with their New Year’s resolutions. They make one mistake -- maybe they miss a workout or skip a few days of meditating -- and then give up on their goal altogether. They’re either on the wagon or totally off of it.
Stop sabotaging yourself by demanding perfection. Accept that you’re probably going to make mistakes. Then, promise yourself that, when that happens, you’ll get back up and start again.
If you miss a couple of workouts, for example, don’t give up on fitness. Assess the situation, figure out what’s causing you to miss your workouts, then recommit yourself, and keep moving forward.
Plan Your New Year’s Resolutions Today
Are you tired of feeling disappointed in yourself when you give up on your New Year’s resolutions? Make next year the year you get it right.
Follow the tips outlined above and you’ll have a much easier time setting practical goals and seeing results!
Where To Start?
If you feel like you are ready to start your health and fitness New Years resolution, we are here to help. From training advice, to the best supplements to use depending on your goal.