Written by: Diane Butler, RDN, LDN, CDCES
Most New Year’s Resolutions sound like a good idea at first. You set a few goals, make plans and purchase new workout equipment, clothes, and shoes to get fit. Your resolution may be to get organized and you buy the bins and the books to get started; but whatever your goals are for 2021, you realize the excitement is beginning to dwindle. Then you realize, you could have been a little too ambitious.
You begin to slip. One missed workout becomes two and so on. The organizing bins and books are now sitting on top of the clutter you intended to organize and clear. The proposed new habits have become not as easy as we hoped. So, we do the logical thing — we quit, give up, surrender… raise the glass!!
You are not alone. The good news is if you are reading this, you are looking for ways to get back on track or sustain it. WebMD reports that at least more than half of the people that start resolutions are still hanging in there at the end of January.
So why make New Year’s Resolutions if they are doomed to fail? As mentioned in an earlier blog, it is no secret that many New Year’s Resolutions fail. It is estimated that less than half of those that make these resolutions make it past January. In fact, the majority of those that make it past January, will not survive until the summer months.
In fact, it is important to make New Year’s Resolutions. First, a resolution is no more than a goal or intention. According to Psychology Today, this is how we are hard wired-it is how the brain gets things done. Without going through all the steps that Psychology today uses, we can sum it up in a few sentences. We set the intention, we make that intention a goal or a resolution. A goal is something we usually make a check list for, or some other way to hold ourselves accountable, to make sure we can check it off our list and evaluate the fruits of our labor. The goal is then accomplished.
According to the same article, Goals are what gives us meaning, or helps to give us purpose. It is a vehicle to help improve our lives and gives us meaning and purpose. It also states that is guides science and medical advancements-it is our driving force. Humans are hardwired to be goal oriented. The human cognitive abilities are what differentiates us from other animals. Purpose is the one thing that moves us to create, inspires us to improve.
Realizing some of the science behind New Year’s Resolutions are not enough to keep us motivated. What then will make it relevant to keep you engaged? It could be as simple as a KISS. No — not that type of mushy, romantic kiss (unless that was your resolution), but the old Keep it Simple Simon.
Some simple steps to get motivated again will be to review your goals. Maybe they were too broad…or not relevant enough to keep you motivated. Start over and goal set the right way!
Here are some simple tips to get you started on the correct way to goal setting!
Remember to be S.M.A.R.T* when setting goals.
- Pick a few things you want to accomplish – make it no more than 3 to 4 items to keep it manageable. Choose something that has meaning to you, your family or your significant other. Unless it matters to you-it will not matter enough to keep it relevant or keep you motivated when the going gets hard. Make sure you write them down and keep them visible to yourself. If you keep them visible, it helps to focus. This will also help you be able to see them and check them off your list.
- If the task still seems impossible, break it down into smaller steps. Make a list of the steps you believe will help you achieve your goals. Then further break those steps down into smaller, workable, tasks for you to accomplish if needed. When each item is achieved-check it off the list!! Starting your plan this way, most people can check one or two of these items off and that is very motivating.
- Commit – do not quit!! Commit yourself to the task-even when you fail a few times. These are considered learning opportunities-you have learned what “not” to do. By observing these trends, it will help you better understand what situations derail you, so you may plan to avoid or find ways to reduce those occurrences to help become more successful with your goals. Your journey should be about consistency and not perfection.
- Surround yourself with positive people to help you stay on track or an accountability partner. Be grateful and appreciate the journey. When you arrive at the destination-it will be a very rewarding experience.
Make sure you are reviewing your goals periodically. Check in to see how things are going, what needs to be improved and so on. Remember, as a part of goal setting, the goal(s) is/are time specific. Before your set time period to have goal achieved, set mini check ins to help you stay on task and re-evaluate and adjust as needed.
Do not forget to celebrate the small victories!! Be grateful for every step in the journey. Even a small step towards your goal is better than none. Sometimes less is better than more depending on your goals.
*Smart Goals are defined as: S-Specific, M-Measurable, A-Achievable, R-Realistic, T-Timely
- https://happiermindjournal.com/blogs/news/3-simple-ways-to-restart-your-new-year-s-resolutions (Accessed 12/10/2020)
- https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/smashing-the-brainblocks/201512/8-reasons-we-really-do-need-make-resolutions (Accessed 01/12/2021)
- https://www.health.harvard.edu/staying-healthy/seven-steps-for-making-your-new-years-resolutions-stick (Accessed 01/12/2021)
Diane is a registered dietitian working at the West Cary locations. She enjoys reading, walking outside, biking, spending time with her family, friends and two fur babies. Diane is loves baking and is a self-proclaimed foodie.