Setting Goals: New Year’s Resolutions

December 28, 2015
new years

New Year’s resolutions – almost everyone makes them but a very small percentage of people actually stick to them. Why? Often, New Year’s resolutions fail because:

  • Resolutions are too vague e.g. this year I’m going to lose weight.
  • To many resolutions are set e.g. this year I’m going to stop drinking coffee, give up smoking, join a gym, lose weight, get a new job, get married, stop eating sugar, drink less alcohol etc.
  • Resolutions are too big e.g. I’m going to run a marathon by March even though I’ve can’t even run a mile today.

Over 90-percent of New Year’s resolutions are broken by the end of January – 90-percent! That’s an atrocious success rate! So, does that mean you shouldn’t bother with New Year’s Resolutions? Actually, no, but if you want to be one of the few people that achieve their New Year goals, make sure you apply the acronym SMARTER to your resolutions…

S – Specific

Vague resolutions like “I want to get fit” or “I want to lose weight” really aren’t very helpful. Instead, make your resolutions specific. How much weight do you want to lose, what do you want to be able to do with your increased fitness? Having a specific target to aim for will help you to direct your energies more effectively and, after all, if you don’t have a target, how do you know where to aim?

M – Measurable

Putting a numerical value to your resolution means you have a way to measure your progress and also have a very precise target to work toward. How much weight do you want to lose? How much fitter or stronger do you want to be? Make sure you can put a numerical value to your resolution and then focus on reaching that target in the coming weeks and months.

A – Achievable

There is nothing wrong with making very lofty resolutions but for any resolution to be successful, it must be realistic.  A recreational jogger with the resolution to run in the next Olympic marathon is only setting themselves up for failure. By all means aim high but be prepared to break lofty resolutions down into more manageable chunks to ensure that you don’t become disillusioned.

R – Recorded

Writing and sharing your resolutions makes them more tangible which means you are more likely to stick with them. It’s a bit like signing a contract – even if it’s not legally binding, we tend to honor things we put our names to. Write down your resolutions and then revisit them anytime you feel your motivation waning.

T – Time-bound

Once you have decided on your resolution, set yourself a date for achieving it. This could be weeks or even months away but by having a deadline, you are more likely to stay focused. Make sure, however, that the deadline is realistic. For example, if you want to lose 20 lbs. give yourself 20 weeks otherwise you are setting yourself up for failure.

E – Enjoyable

Resolutions should be life enhancing and that means that that the process should be enjoyable. If your resolution is going to make you miserable, it’s unlikely that you are going to stick to it. Don’t choose the resolutions that you think you ought to but, instead, set the ones you want to.

R – Resources

Do you have everything you need to achieve your New Year’s resolution? Do you have the time to exercise? Do you have a gym membership? Do you know how to cook healthy, low-calorie meals? If you don’t, make sure you get these resources in place BEFORE you start your resolution. Lack of resources can sabotage even the most enthusiastic efforts so make sure you are fully equipped before you embark on your self-improvement journey.

Taking time to plan your New Year’s resolutions with such military precision might seem like overkill but if you want to succeed, it’s worth doing. If, like the majority of resolutions setters, you have made resolutions in the past and then failed to stick with them, it’s clear that what you have done before doesn’t work. Instead of repeating your mistakes, use SMARTER to help you plan this year’s New Year’s resolution and you may well find that 2016 is your fittest, healthiest year yet!

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