Happy New Year everyone! It’s not just a time for celebration, but also a time to think about change and resolutions. There’s loads of information out there about the success rates (or failure rates) of New Year’s resolutions, and it can be pretty disheartening. The bottom line is that change is hard; and I think that’s made worse when I person continually tries and fails–it can create a mindset of “why bother?” But hard doesn’t mean impossible! Sometimes you need to find a better approach to your obstacles. Here are some ways to set yourself up for a better chance at success so that you can meet all of the challenges you set your mind to.
- Find passion. Set resolutions that are truly meaningful to you. That may sound basic and straightforward, but many people set goals to “save money” or “lose weight” that can be seen as restrictive and boring. While those things are important, the phrasing of them may feel like a punishment. For example, don’t think “I can’t buy this new pair of shoes, I’m broke and I’m trying to save money,” but instead find what you’re passionate about and switch it to “I’m not going to buy these shoes today because I’m saving up for a new car.” Similarly, thinking “I’m not allowed to have carbs or chocolate,” is the mental equivalent of being in time-out. Rephrasing it to “I’ll pass on dessert tonight because I want to be healthy and look great in my favorite jeans” creates a psychological difference by reminding you of greater goals that will lead toward longer term happiness than what you’re foregoing in the moment.
- Write down your goals. Make a visual list of what you want to accomplish. Or double down and create a vision board. These strategies have scientifically proven positive impacts on our brain; don’t believe me? Read more here.
- Make sure your goals are “SMART”. Simple, Meaningful, Attainable, Results-based, and Time-sensitive. Setting goals that meet these criteria will help you take appropriate action. It’s a great way to organize your priorities and create a plan. Read about SMART goals here.
- Get moving. I often find myself waiting for “Monday” or “next week” to get started on things, but this year I decided to start exercising again in November. Why? Because after setting a goal that’s important to me, I didn’t need to wait for an arbitrary day like January 1st to begin, and now I’m already that much closer to where I want to be. You don’t need a fresh spot on the calendar to set your good habits into motion. So if you didn’t start already, get going. There’s no better time to start than now!
- If at first you don’t succeed, try and try again. Often times people give themselves labels like “failure” when they don’t get something right on the first couple tries, but that’s simply the wrong way of looking at things. If you set a goal to exercise 4 times per week and you only managed to do it 3 times this week, that doesn’t mean you’re inferior and you should scrap the whole idea of fitness. Don’t be hard on yourself, just aim to do better next time. Those who are resilient enough to get up, shake off the dust, and get back in the ring are the true winners. It’s like Thomas Edison said, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”