The decorations have been put away, the kids are back in school, and you are feeling motivated to start the new year ahead. January 1st rolls around every year and, like clockwork, you find yourself setting a handful of New Year Resolutions. “Get back into the gym”, “clean up my diet”, and “lose weight” are three resolutions that always seem to make their way to the top of the popularity list. While the intentions behind these resolutions are absolutely fantastic, there is one major adjustment that can be made that will aid in turning these resolutions into realistic goals.
That is specificity.
Did you know that people start falling off their New Year Resolutions right around January 12th?
Another eye-opening statistic according to a study by the University of Scranton states that only 8% of people actually achieve their New Year Resolutions! Two of the biggest explanations for why people fall off their resolutions are setting both unrealistic expectations and vague goals. When setting goals (at any point during the year) you should always ask yourself “Is this a SMART goal?”A SMART goal is a technique used to aid in creating and achieving both short and long term goals Your goals are considered SMART if you can check all of these boxes:
- Is it SPECIFIC? Simply stating “get healthier” is not specific enough to hold you accountable. Are you looking to lose a certain amount of weight? Are you trying to get into a new exercise routine?
- Is it MEASUREABLE? How are you going to measure the outcome of your goal? Are you shooting to drop 3% body fat? Are you aiming to increase your cardio frequency to 3-4 days per week?
- Is it ATTAINABLE? Is this something that can be accomplished, or is it a lofty goal? Setting a weight loss goal of 50 lbs in 2 months would be unattainable and unrealistic. Getting to the gym 6 days per week may not be reasonable for your schedule.
- Is it RELEVANT? Is this something that you really want to do? If you hate running and have ongoing joint pain, it would be silly to set a goal of “run a half marathon”. Your goals should be based on what you want!
- Is it TIMELY? If your goal doesn’t have a deadline, how do you expect to reach this goal?
With all of this considered, let’s take our initial goal of “get healthier” and turn it into a SMART goal: By June 30th, I want to lose 10-15 lbs by cutting back on added sugars and getting 30 minutes of cardio 3 days per week. This is much more reasonable and gives you some wiggle room to indulge in your favorite sweets every once in a while instead of opting to cut out sugar completely.
Now that we are nearing the end of January, some of you may have trickled away from your resolutions or have fallen off track a little bit. What I am about to say might surprise you a little bit, but… THAT’S OKAY! You are human! We all fall off track more than we like to admit. There is no reason whatsoever that you should beat yourself up over that. Instead of allowing yourself to totally derail after you have gone off course, cut yourself some slack and do a mental check-in. Put pen to paper and map out the following sequence to get yourself back on board:
- What was your goal? Was it SMART? Was it too lofty?
- If you determine you set your expectations too high, readjust! Make it more specific, change up the time frame or the measurements.
- Where did you go wrong? Did you set a weight loss goal of 10 lbs in 3 months but only lost 8? Maybe your workouts started to slack during the last month. How can you switch this goal up in the future to make it more attainable?
- Write out a list of all the things you have accomplished. If you only lost 8 lbs instead of 10, honor that 8 lb weight loss! You earned it. Give yourself a break and pat yourself on the back for the things you DID do. You can’t climb a flight of stairs without taking the first step.
- What is your inner voice telling you? You spend the most time with your own thoughts – you better make sure those are positive ones. Thank your body for all of its hard work and instead of telling yourself “I did what I said I wasn’t going to do. I am a failure”, tell yourself “I can do this. I have already done xyz”.
If you’re still going strong with your New Year Resolutions – that’s amazing and you should be very proud of yourself! If you have fallen off – tomorrow is a new day. Collect yourself, reset new goals for tomorrow, crush them, and then repeat the next day. Sometimes the biggest successes come from falling off a little bit and recognizing where you went wrong. Brush off the dust and get back on the horse! Happy Goal Setting!
-Jessica Machaby, MS, Certified Health Coach
Learn more about setting SMART goals and other wellness opportunities at The Works by visiting our website today.