Happy New Year! This is the time of year where we like to reflect on the past and plan for the year ahead. What worked … what didn’t? Studies have shown that 41% of Americans make resolutions each year, most of which revolve around weight and health. Unfortunately, only 9% of the people who make resolutions feel they are successful. In fact, over 68% give up on their goals after just two weeks.
In a world where we can watch a movie just seconds after ordering it, transfer money to your friend’s bank as they sit next to you on the couch, and get same-day delivery service for just about anything, we have become a culture of instant gratification and loss of patience.
Guess what? Change takes more than just a thought – it takes time, work and you guessed it, patience! It is no wonder that people cannot make it past two weeks with their resolutions.
Let me put this into perspective for you … Just to lose one pound of body fat, you need to decrease total calories consumed by 3500. Even eating 500 calories less in a single day, it will take you one full week to lose that one pound. For someone who has a large amount to lose, this can be a daunting and yes, time-consuming task.
Most of us make unrealistic resolutions (aka goals). We focus on where we want to go, but don’t really plan and think things through on how to get there. Without planning, life can get away from you – it can quickly become a series of messy events that you do not control.
Although not a new idea, SMART goal setting can help to bring about structure as well as the ability to track your progress, helping to turn that goal into a reality.
The acronym S.M.A.R.T. stands for the following:
S – Specific
M – Measurable
A – Attainable
R – Realistic (Relevant)
T – Timely
There are also some questions you need to ask yourself when setting your goals, for example: What exactly do I want to achieve? Why do I want to achieve them? Where? How? When? With whom? What are some limitations I might encounter?
Be very Specific – Do not deal in absolutes.
Avoid the words “some” and “more”. For example, if you say I will get “more” sleep each night or I will get in “some” exercise, you are giving yourself too much wiggle room. Use Measurable things that you have control over such as I will go to bed at 11:00 pm Sunday through Thursday so I can get 8 hours of sleep, or I will go for a 30-minute walk on my lunch hour 3 days each week. Lastly, don’t use the words “always” or “never” … the all or nothing attitude is what sends people back to their bad habits.
Start small and try not to focus on too many things at the same time. We’ve talked about Specific and Measurable, but let’s not forget about Attainable and Realistic. Pick something you know you can do every day for the next couple of weeks. Maybe it is as simple as I am going to drink 4 glasses of water each day. Achieving even a small goal can boost your confidence, getting you ready for the next one.
The last one is Timely – you do this by creating a plan and writing it down. Set a tentative timeline as to when you want to reach your goals. Giving yourself a deadline is what will turn those wishes and desires into goals. The act of writing it down shows you are committed and focused.
One last important component when formulating goals is to think and frame your goals in a positive light. Whatever you focus on is what is going to increase, so when you focus on NOT doing something, it is now all you can think about.
Do not expect perfection. Failure is going to happen, and disappointments are a part of life, but that does not mean it is time to give up. Understand that you may not succeed the first time around and that persistence and patience are the keys to long-term success. Things that are valuable take time. Start small … remember that many small achievements add up to big successes.
Cheers to a successful 2017 – full of small but meaningful changes!