It’s that time of year again — the time when people take stock of the previous year and vow to do better during the upcoming year; the time we make our New Year’s resolutions. Although making them can be good, it can also set us up for feeling we’ve failed if we don’t achieve whatever we’ve resolved to do.
If you like to make resolutions at the beginning of the year, there’s nothing wrong with that. But if we don’t have a plan, our good intentions may go by the wayside. We may find ourselves making the same resolutions year after year and feeling as if we’ve failed when we realize that’s what we’re doing. So how can we prevent this from happening?
Rather than just making arbitrary resolutions, we can actually go through the goal-setting process to map out a plan for how we’re going to turn them into reality.
Here are a few tips that may be helpful:
Set SMART goals. A SMART goal is
Specific – What is it, exactly, that you want to attain with this goal?
Measurable – A goal has to be something you can measure. Otherwise, how will you know if you’ve met it?
Action-Oriented – Your goals should be those actions that will move you toward your desired end result. Ask yourself what you need to DO to get there.
Realistic – Ideally, goals will help you stretch a little to move you forward, but they need to be realistic.
Timed – Goals need to have a timeline, or we can be tempted to just keep pushing them down the road.
Establish your “why.” This is your ultimate reason for wanting to accomplish whatever it is you want to accomplish. This has to be powerful enough to keep you moving toward the goal even when you don’t feel like it.
Start from a positive. People who start any kind of health-improvement efforts with a negative mindset (for example, I’ve got to stop eating so much junk food) are rarely successful. There’s something about framing things positively (for example, I want to eat well so that I’m fueling my body to be the best it can be) that makes us want to succeed.
Build in some “wiggle room.” Whatever your desired result, you have to give yourself a little flexibility. If your plan is too rigid, you may not be able to stick to it. This is especially important for those of us who live with fibromyalgia or other chronic illnesses. Let’s face it — there are going to be days that we just can’t accomplish everything we want to — that’s just a fact of life. If we have some flexibility in our plan we allow ourselves to take that break and not feel badly about it.
Leave the “all or nothing” mindset behind. This goes hand-in-hand with building in some flexibility. The “all or nothing” mindset is what trips people up on their way to their goals more than anything else. Too often, people start out well but when they can’t keep up with the pace they’ve set, they give up. Remember, something is better than nothing. As long as you are taking even one step forward, you’re making progress.
Making resolutions can be a great way to help us look into the future and see where we want to be. Developing a plan and setting goals can help us get there.
Do you make New Year’s resolutions? What have you found most helpful for sticking to them? Please share!