The only New Year’s resolution I’ve ever kept, is to make no more New Year’s resolutions. It just never worked for me. It seems like every year around this time, we “resolve” to do the things we know we should to be doing already. For some reason, resolutions usually have to do with lifestyle choices. The top resolutions for Americans are losing weight, combined with “exercise more” and “stay fit and healthy.” Do these proclamations really help? Or are we just saying these things to make ourselves feel better, pretending we’re actually doing something? That’s what it seemed like to me, especially when they ended up being the same every year.
Statistically, these resolutions rarely pan out. Most people have forgotten them by February, and a very small percentage – 9.2 percent, according to StatisticBrain.com, feel they’re “successful in achieving their resolution.” I don’t like those odds. It means 90.8 percent are unsuccessful. With numbers like that, there’s little chance for any real transformation.
I’m sure most New Year’s resolutions are made with good intentions, but that alone isn’t enough. I think the number one reason why resolutions fail, is that we aren’t really invested in making the change. Often, resolutions are made because that’s what we think we should say; what society expects. Most of us know we need to lose weight, but how many of us really want to commit to making the lifestyle changes needed to make that happen? Where do we even start?
Which takes me to the next reasons why I think resolutions don’t work: they’re too vague and there’s no realistic plan. Resolving to “lose weight” may sound like a good idea, but what does it mean? Not defining the end goal and what it will take, is a surefire way to never get there. We can do better than that. We can set goals.
I believe setting goals is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves. It’s what gives us direction and motivation to make things happen. Rather than being pulled along by the ebb and flow of life, having goals lets us determine for ourselves where we want to go, how we’re going to get there, and how we’ll know when we arrive. But the best, brightest reward for setting goals is celebrating their achievement. The things I’ve been able to make happen in my life, is because I’ve set goals and worked hard – not by accident.
Many people have tried setting goals in the past, and have had as much success with them, as they’ve had with the resolutions they’ve set. It doesn’t take long for those goals to feel like failures, so they stop trying. I’ve learned that the difference between goals that work, and one’s that don’t is how the goal is structured. The way I like to set goals is based on the acronym SMART, for Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound.
Specific defines the outcome and makes the end result clear. Measurable makes the goal something you can track, to let you see your progress. Attainable goals are challenging enough to make you stretch, but not so much so they’re impossible to achieve. Relevant means that this is a goal that matters to you, that you really want to achieve for yourself, not other people. If we don’t put a deadline to our actions, nothing ever gets done, so putting a completion date to make the goal time-bound is the final piece of the puzzle. This system takes, “I want to lose weight” to “I will lose 5 pounds in the month of January.” A subtle, but big difference.
To take it a step further, to make the goal really work, decide on the strategies that will help achieve this monthly goal. Now you have easier, baby-step daily goals. For example, “Walk the poodle every day for 30 minutes,” or “Log what I eat into the My Fitness Pal app every day, so I can make sure I’m getting the nutrients I need,” or “Take the Nourishment: Eating for Body and Soul class at the Finishing School for Modern Women on January 13th, so I can learn how to make small tweaks to make my body happier.” (This class is going to be so good! Can’t wait!)
Important note: Setting goals is much too significant to do only once a year. This works best when we’re continually looking at our goals. They can be changed, updated, and even deleted if the goal no longer makes sense. I like to set weekly, monthly and longer-term goals for myself, which keeps me moving forward.
Another trick that’s helped me is breaking goals into MPV goals, another acronym that stands for Minimum, Primary and Visionary. Minimum goals are the very least I want to accomplish. Primary is what I really want to get done, and of course, visionary is the “sky’s the limit” goal. I like this because even if I can’t hit the visionary goal, I can at least achieve something to celebrate.
After all, the celebration is the best part! It’s the icing on the cake. It’s also the part most people leave off. I seriously think people don’t celebrate enough, as I talked about in this blog from June. And not just accomplishments. Failures need to be celebrated too. It’s how we learn and grow, and not make the same mistakes again and again. Celebrations are always more fun than Pity Parties. (You can quote me on that.)
I’m going to explore an alternative this year to setting resolutions or goals. I’m going to try choosing just one word to set as my intention for 2018. This interesting movement, asks you to choose just one word you can focus on every day, that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live, to direct your decisions and guide your goals. Check out this website for more information and to find other people who have the same word as you. What do you think about this idea? I’m excited to hear what you word for2018 will be!
No matter how you welcome in the New Year – be safe, stay warm and make merry!
All my love,