I’ve been asking friends and colleagues about their New Year’s resolutions and getting a lot of eye rolling and “why bother” comments in response. At the same time, I’ve been receiving emails and Twitter messages from people who really want to achieve their goals this year. So which type of person are you: jaded or jazzed?
Here’s a sobering statistic which might explain so many folks’ blase attitudes: a survey conducted at this time last year found that 66% of Americans have made New Year’s resolutions and only 17% actually manage to keep them. Full disclosure: my own track record isn’t perfect; I’d say I have about a 50% success rate on my New Year’s Resolutions, which turns out to be three times the national average.
So how do you make sure that the promise you make to yourself during the last week of December is one you’re still fulfilling at the end of January and beyond? Take a little time to think about the right goals and you’ll greatly increase your success rate.
1. Make a small goal. “I vow to go to one yoga class a week” is a much more realistic goal than “I’ll lose three dress sizes in a month.” Set yourself up to succeed rather than to fail with an easy, achievable goal that helps lead to a healthier lifestyle. Who knows where that one yoga class could take you; the great vibe you create there might help you to live better in a myriad of other ways.
2. Do not make a goal that significantly alters your life. “I’ll quit my day job and become an Etsy crafter!” This might sound adventurous, but do you have any idea how to actually accomplish that? What if it turns out you like crafting as a hobby but hate it as a 40+ hour a week career? Instead, take a little step in that direction like, “I’ll take a class on a new sewing technique.” This will give you the chance to see if you like the idea and let you explore it further. Plug in your own “adventure” for the word crafting in the paragraph above and the same rules apply.
3. Make a one-time, short-term goal. “I’ll throw a dinner party” is a one-time event that moves you down the road of building community and perhaps cooking new recipes. “I’ll vacation in Italy this year” is a bigger goal but one with a shelf life. What’s the one thing that you’ve wanted to do but have been stalling at achieving? As long as it is a one-off event, make it your goal for the year and start taking the steps needed to make it happen.
4. I’ll lose only five pounds. Do me a favor and don’t make a weight loss goal bigger than five pounds! You can always make another goal to lose a second five pounds, but please, don’t step on the scale, remember how much you weighed in high school and decide that must be your goal weight. You can lose five pounds comfortably in four to six weeks. This requires time carved out of your already hectic schedule for a short burst of cardio activity and resistance training as well as rethinking grocery purchases. If you successfully lose the five pounds, by all means go for the next five and give yourself a huge pat on the back. Small successes will lead to bigger ones.
5. Plan a reward. “When I reach my goal I’m going to treat myself to _______.” Treat yourself to a reward when you achieve your goal (and I don’t recommend the reward be related to the goal). If you’re trying to lose five pounds, don’t treat yourself to an ice cream sundae; instead make your reward a girls’ night out or a pedicure or a new book. If you’re close to your goal but thinking of wavering, the reward might be the extra incentive you need to get there.
I hope my five steps help you shape your successful New Year’s resolutions. And please share them with me. I’m happy to be your cheerleader and maybe even help you achieve them!