With 2020 a blank page ready to tell your story, you may feel like many others that resolutions and promises of change must be made for the year ahead. For sure, resolutions can be helpful when trying to parse out new goals and expectations for yourself. However, for many, these fall by the wayside after only a week or two. Why is it that our best intentions and promises to lose weight, go to the gym more, drink less, drink more water, etc. don’t seem to pan out as long term habit changes?
How to Set Goals (And Meet Them!)
First of all, let’s talk about goal setting. Experts tell us that goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time bound (The acronym SMART can help remember these). Sometimes new resolutions fail because we haven’t taken the time to think about these steps and make a plan. Broad goals with no plan are doomed to fail. For example, “I want to start running” may not be a great goal because it is does not define any of the SMART criterion. Instead, think of a way to measure your progress with a specific goal that is also time bound. With this in mind, a better goal might be, “I am going to sign up for a 5k and run 3x/weekly for 15-20 minutes to train for it.”
It’s also very important to think about your own personal “why”. When we feel motivated about pursuing a goal or resolution, we feel a strong emotional connection to it. When the going gets tough or we feel like quitting, it is helpful to keep that “why” in the front of your mind to remind yourself to keep going even when it’s hard. Bottom line: Set a goal or make a resolution that really matters to you and that you feel driven to accomplish. Then, write that down and put it somewhere that you can see it everyday.
A Word About Weight Loss Goals
Sometimes it’s worth it to step off the scale and focus your efforts on non-weight loss driven goals. If you find yourself obsessed with the number on the scale or a “goal weight”, it can be helpful to refocus your resolution to be focused on self-love, self-care or overall health. For example, swap “I want to lose 10 lbs.” for “I am going to prioritize my health (mental and physical) by going for a 30 minute walk every day”. There are many things that go into how much our body weighs, and there is a big difference between fat loss and weight loss. Spend some time being honest about your goal and resolution – if it causes emotional stress or isn’t serving your overall health and wellbeing, think of others that might fit the bill. Here are some ideas for resolutions that are not weight focused:
- Stretch in the morning
- Drink a glass of water before your morning coffee/tea
- Practice a 5- minute guided meditation several times weekly
- Start a gratitude journal and make a gratitude list at least once a week
- Find a volunteer opportunity that speaks to you and try to volunteer once a month
- Eat 1 cup of veggies with your dinner
No Time Like the Present
We tend to wait until the beginning of the year to make big habit or lifestyle changes, but maybe it’s time for a mindset shift! There is truly no time like the one you are in right now to set new goals for yourself. An easy way to help you ease into this to set some mini goals for yourself. Maybe that means a goal of drinking 8 glasses of water every day that week, or a goal to get to the gym 3 days that week, or even a goal to call a loved one one evening that week. Pick something small and achievable and see how great you feel at the end of the week.
No matter what kind of goal or resolution you make for the year ahead, know that you have the power to start fresh at any moment!