New Year’s resolutions drive me crazy.

Not because I don’t think there is always room for improvement or always another goal to strive towards. I love goal setting. New Year’s resolutions drive me crazy because they are often doomed for failure.  It’s like we go to bed on New Year’s Eve expecting to wake up entirely different people, and then are shocked and disappointed when we can maintain the shift.  We make sweeping commitments like “I will go to the gym every day before work” when we’ve never gone before, or “I will stop eating food that’s bad for me” when your diet consists of only take-out etc, etc

And what happens when we don’t maintain our resolutions or commitments to ourselves? Negative self talk.  “I’m such a quitter”, “Why am I so LAZY!?!?”, “I have NO follow through” or “See I knew I wouldn’t do it” are ones I often hear.

But the problem doesn’t lie in the resolutions or in the person making them; the problem lies in the execution. Sheer will-power alone isn’t enough.  Without real planning we often start off great and come February its back to the same old thing.

Real change takes preparation, takes planning and acknowledging that we will probably slip up and then we get back up and start over again.

A big issue with most change we attempt is we’re often unrealistic in what we can accomplish in given period of time so we are actually setting ourselves up to fail.  So why not do it differently this year?

STEP 1:  Pick one goal.  

That’s right . . . ONE.  It’s enough I swear.  Everything we do in life is connected and making real, lasting change in one area of life, leads to shifts in others.  Taking on too much leads to feeling overwhelmed and can often be self-defeating.

STEP 2: Make sure your goal is SPECIFIC.

This means instead of saying “I will eat better”, saying “I will eat at least one fruit and one vegetable per day”.  The more specific the better because then you really know what you are working towards.

STEP 3: Make sure your goal is MEASURABLE.

Again this is a way to track how you are doing and if your need to adjust anything to accomplish your goal.  Instead of “I will go to the gym more” or for most “I will start going to the gym” look at a real number like “I will go to the gym 2 times per week”.  This leads us to the next step.

STEP 4:  Make sure your goal is ACHIEVABLE.

If you decide you are going to start eating dinners at home instead of dining out, but your work schedule doesn’t allow you to be home in the evenings – it is unlikely you are going to achieve this goal without doing some major shifting in other areas.  Again, if you are prepared to make those changes – GREAT!  If you are not in a position to do so maybe adjusting the goal to something more achievable, in this case maybe making home cooked meals and bringing them to the office is more likely to bring success.

STEP 5: Make sure your goal is REALISTIC.

Again going back to the gym example, if you have not been going to the gym at all and you now say you are going to go every day??  I’ll save you the time – No you’re not.  Now I do not doubt your will power – I doubt your time management. Start small and work your way up.  By saying twice per week you are allowing your body to adjust and it is also giving you a sense of how much time you are truly going to have to commit. Going to the gym everyday means at least one hr per day or 7 hours per week that were being spent elsewhere.  With any change, other aspects of your life are going to have to shift in order for you to fit in a new activity consistently.

STEP 6: Make sure your goal is TIMES BASED.

Again by putting some type of time frame to your goal it helps you stay on track.  Examples could be “every day I will sit quietly for 30 minutes” or “Every month I will take one weekend and turn off my phone” or “every year I will take a 2 week vacation with my family” etc.  Knowing your time frame helps you manage your time and keep track of how you are doing.

If your goals contain the following elements: SPECIFIC, MEASURABLE, ACHIEVABLE, REALISTIC & TIME BASED, otherwise known as SMART goals, you are much more likely to find lasting change.  And the more we stick to our commitments to ourselves, the better we feel and the more we accomplish.  It’s a win-win for you and those lucky enough to know you.

I wish you all the best for what this year has in store. It can be a great one.