As we head into the new year, many of us strive to make resolutions in an effort to treat our mind and bodies right. Unfortunately, after the initial push to live the healthy life, many of us fall victim to the mid-January slouch, when we realize that the weather outside is still frightful and our motivation has started to dwindle; until alas, we are back to our old habits. How do we avoid this seemingly inevitable trend? I am so glad you asked! J
The first step is to develop accountability. It seems so easy and intuitive, yet many people never think to create a system that keeps them in check. Whether it’s teaming up with someone in the office to discuss your goals or simply writing down your resolutions and revisiting them daily, it is important that you make a conscious effort to keep your resolutions top of mind and . One tool I have developed for clients is a self-contract for goals. When coming up with your New Year’s Resolutions (or Goals) you really need to write them down, using the SMART formula.
Make sure that your goals have the following characteristics:
S: Are the Specific? While I can easily say that I would like to eat better this new year, it is hard to determine what that really means on a daily basis and if I am really achieving that goal. Instead, make goals as specific as possible, such as: Eat 3-4 Fruits and Vegetables a day and cut down on sweets to 1 dessert per week. When our goals are clear and specific it is much easier for our brains to know how to be successful!
M: Are they Measurable? Quantify your goals! You don’t just want to lose weight, you want to lose 10 pounds or fit into a size 8. By having numbers you can measure progress which helps facilitate motivation and long term success.
A: Are they Attainable? While goals are a great way to spark change, setting goals that are unattainable are self-sabotaging and often lead to relapses or negative behaviors. Keep in mind when setting goals that they should be achievable. Increasing my cardio fitness to the level of Lance Armstrong is highly unlikely, so why set myself up for failure. Instead set a goal like completing so many minutes of cardio per week in order to increase cardio fitness. Much easier to track and I’ll still be striving for the same result.
R: Are they Realistic? Remember that we are human, and the occasional slip is not something to fret about. When setting goals, avoid using terms like NEVER, EVERY or ALWAYS. These phrases are not realistic since life is unpredictable, and is it best to remain flexible. Saying that you will hit the gym every day is great in theory, but what if you get sick, injured or have a social obligation. The goal is health and you may need to take a day off. Then you skip and the guilt sets in. Setting realistic goals allows us to maintain flexibility and stay focused on what really matters.
T: Are they Time-Oriented? Always have an end date. This allows us to track progress and avoid procrastination. We all like a healthy dose of competition and it a great kick start to achieve any goal as we see that date approaching. Remember it takes 4 weeks to make a habit and 8 weeks to see a change, so give yourself enough time to see success, but avoid a long term date that hinders motivation to keep the changes going.
Once you have your goals set, make the commitment to change by signing a contract to yourself. Feel free to print off the goal setting worksheet and contract below to help get the results you were looking for. It’s a New Year, so here’s to the New You!