(Article updated and adapted for the new year on 01/25/18)
It comes as no surprise that the new year is accompanied by goals, resolutions, and changes. New Year’s resolutions seem to be ubiquitous across gender, race, age, and nationality. Even young children grasp this concept and set their own goals. So, how long have humans been setting New Year’s resolutions? Since Babylonian times people have been making goals and righting their wrongs at the beginning of the year.
A study done at the end of 2017 mapped out the most commonly set New Year's goals for 2018. Guess what the #1 goal is? You might think that it is about weight loss. But, for the first time weight loss and being a better person are tied for the that 1st place spot. It appears that more of you are interested in becoming better all around, and not just focusing on that number on the scale. In principle, I astoundingly agree.
You and I are supremely more than the number on the scale. Being a better person suggests that you are dedicated to both your physical and mental health. The goal to be better (at anything) than you are today is a perfect concept to put into practice. But how do you translate this idea into actionable steps?
Unfortunately, changes in habits and health take more than just thinking about it. You have to have a plan and take action. Most new year’s resolutions fail in the planning stages. Setting a goal without a clear plan of action is like getting in a car that is out of gas. It isn’t enough to set a goal, or write it down. Just like it isn’t enough to have a nice car without any gas. You just aren’t going to get very far without a plan or a tank of gas.
Andy Warhol said:
They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.
How do I set goals that I will actually achieve? What health related resolutions should I set for 2018? I’m so glad you asked.
Lets be smart about this. S.M.A.R.T. is an acronym for an effective goal setting plan. Let me explain:
Most goals are too broad and general. For example, many of my clients tell me they want to lose weight in the new year. But what exactly does that mean? Let’s talk in more specifics. Making specific goals enables you get a sense of progress and ownership of what you accomplish along the way. Here are some examples:
Goals are easy to achieve when they are for a measured amount of time or measured result. Deadlines may be annoying at work, but they're vital to keeping yourself on track. What good would it do for you to set the goal of losing weight? Instead, give yourself a measurable target so that progress can be observed and motivation can be maintained.
Setting resolutions, goals, and having dreams is great, but these ideas need to be broken down into individual steps and actions. Setting up smaller or shorter goals to achieve a longer goal is a good way to check in on your progress. Imagine that you are building the new you every day, and it will be these small consistent actions that will build you up to your larger goal. I've heard it said that we often overestimate what we can do in one day and underestimate what we can do in several days.
Choosing a goal that is literally impossible is setting yourself up for failure. Setting unrealistic goals and resolutions can sabotage your health and self esteem. Making sure your goals are realistic often requires self-awarness and if available, outside perspective. Share your goals with a friend and ask if they think your goals are achievable.
Creating an action plan for your goal and giving yourself timelines and checkpoints is sure to keep you on track. Checkpoints give you those "mid-race" boosts of energy and motivation: they're like water to a marathon runner. Without checkpoints, most of us will fall short of our goals due to fatigue and exhaustion. Be smart and mark your goals trackable.
Will the new YOU be healthier, leaner, and smarter? Whatever your goals may be, prepare yourselves the right way by being S.M.A.R.T.! And of course, if you have any questions or need that extra help setting and achieving your 2018 healthy goals, just make a comment below and I'll give you my 2 cents!
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