The last page of the 2020 calendar has been turned and the fresh start of 2021 is staring you in the face. Though the “hamster wheel” of life tempts us to settle for the status quo (especially during this time of a global pandemic!), more often than not January is a time of reflection and goal setting. It’s natural to try to set up resolutions for the new year to make a better, stronger, more organized, more “together” you. Sadly, most studies show that 80% of resolutions fail by the second week of February.
But there’s hope!
If you learn how to set small, measurable goals and develop the habits and routines to achieve them, you will find yourself defeating those odds.
Goals That Last
Knowing how to set an appropriate goal is an important first step. A goal needs to be observable, measurable, and achieved within a fixed time frame. So, for example, instead of resolving to be more organized, create a goal to put all mail and bills in the desk organizer each day. Instead of trying to have a cleaner house, decide to vacuum every Saturday.
Once you’ve created specific, measurable goals, the question you need to ask yourself is, “How do I translate these ideas into action?” Scott Young offers the following suggestions:
- Be committed. Commit to doing a new habit for a month. If you can make it through the initial conditioning phase, it becomes easier to maintain.
- Make it consistent. Consistency is critical if you want to make a habit stick. Activities you do every now and then are trickier to lock in as habits.
- Start simple. Don’t try to change everything you do in one day. Instead, create a micro-commitment where it is almost impossible to fail. If you ultimately want to study for two hours a day, start with 10 minutes. If you want to eat healthier, start by eating one serving of vegetables each day.
- Plan for obstacles. Every new habit will have obstacles. When you know in advance what your obstacles might be, you can plan around them. If it rains tomorrow, I will work out at the gym. Since I have an important meeting at 12:30 tomorrow, I will need to pack and eat an early lunch.
- Address bad thought patterns and negative habits. If your current behaviors are preventing you from setting up new habits, be honest with yourself and fix them. If you have no energy to accomplish a task in a day because you are staying up too late, go to bed at an earlier time. Address negative thoughts using “but.” I am no good at this, but if I work at it I will get better.
- Be imperfect. Allow yourself to fail and then get back up again. Forming a new habit may take several tries.
- Surround yourself with key people. Find a buddy who will form the habit as well and keep you motivated if you feel like quitting. Spend time with role models who are good at the habit you want to mirror.
- Write it down. Writing down your goals makes your ideas more clear and focuses you on your end result, which leads to a higher likelihood of achieving.
- Practice self care. When trying to balance a busy work or family schedule it’s easy to forget to practice self care. Build in downtime and reward or praise yourself for your small successes along the way.
A Healthy Lifestyle
Diet and fitness are often high on the list of resolutions that people make each year. Many of these resolutions seem to fail, and often it is because goals and intentions are too far-reaching or focus too much on restrictions and eliminations. Chelsea Jones, founder of Chiseled by Chelsea, is a macro coach who helps individuals meet their nutrition goals. She has this to say about setting long-term nutrition habits: “While [dietary] eliminations will likely lead to results in the short term, they’re often not sustainable [and]… can lead to binging and feelings of guilt. Instead, focusing on balance is key. Including the foods and beverages you enjoy in moderation is a realistic lifestyle that can still help you achieve your goals. Plus, it’s much more enjoyable!”
Thinking about doing more of something (more water, more protein, more steps) is often easier and more realistic than thinking about doing less of something (less sugar, less alcohol, less sitting).
Natalie Rebecca Design has a set of inserts that can help you achieve a balanced approach to a healthy lifestyle. Though it is called a Fitness Journal, these inserts are much more than a place to write down workouts! Coupled with pages of inspirational quotes, these inserts contain weekly pages to write down your nutritional intake at each meal. There is also an easy icon-chart to log the amount of water you drink each day and the amount of sleep you get each night (two essential components of a healthy lifestyle!), as well as a place to log exercise. There is also space for weekly notes and monthly reflections. A beneficial way of using these inserts might be to first start by tracking what your current diet and fitness habits are. After a week, use what you learned to set one small, measurable goal for yourself. After a few weeks, see how you are doing. Adjust your goal, as necessarily, and maybe add on one more small, measurable goal. You can keep track of your progress in the transformation log at the end of the Fitness Journal. After a few months you should see a noticeable change you can be proud of!
In this one simple set of pages you can achieve several criteria for obtaining desirable habits: be committed, write it down, make it consistent, start simple, address bad thought patterns, and practice self care.
Be a Part of the 20
With a few mindful, purposeful steps, you can be a part of the 20% of people whose New Year’s resolutions stand the test of time!