So you set some New Year resolutions and they did’t pan out the way you hoped. Now is the very best time to shake it off and move on with renewed vigour. Take comfort from knowing most resolutions fail in the first six weeks. It’s also comforting to know that this is rarely the fault of the person, but of the resolution. You have not failed because you are weak or have no will power. More often than not we set grand resolutions because we think these will give us focus and meaning. We get carried away with the grandeur and almost inevitably set ourselves up for failure. Well, I would like to solemnly declare that we draw a lie in the sand and move forward. Here’s how we are going to do it.
Make Goals Achievable
There’s little point making a grand resolution like, “lose 10 stone by Easter,” or “run a sub 15 minute 5km,” when you’ve never been under 30 minutes. (Here’s a post about running a faster 5k). It’s actually good to have a major goal, but make this a long term mission, with medium and short term goals along the way. The big goal gives you a long term focus. The medium term goals keep you on track and the short term goals are the steps that get you there. Dropping ten stone is a lot of body fat to lose. It takes time to lose this sort if weight safely and sustainably and you are likely to hit speed bumps along the way. Short and medium term goals help you to negotiate the blips and keep you going. Even when you are forced to take a backward step, which happens in any big mission, you can rely on your smaller goals to guide you forwards. (Here’s a link to why weighing yourself isn’t the best.)
Make Goals Specific
If your goals are too general or wishy washy you are more likely to wander off track or fail altogether. A common resolution is to “eat better” or “exercise more” which, whilst virtuous and something we should all consider, are not very specific. Declaring something like, “I will cut out snacks between meals” or “I will avoid refined sugar” or “I will walk 30 minutes every day” or “I will attend at least three classes a week.” These are good medium term goals. Break these into short term goals that carry you forward. Such as, “this week I will walk every day,” “next week I will walk 30 minutes at least every other day,” “week three I will walk 30 minutes every day.”
Hold Yourself Accountable
Only you can achieve your goals. Others can support you, but it ultimately comes down to you. Set yourself up for success and hold yourself accountable.
You can do this two ways. Declare your goals out loud so that your friends and family can support you. The majority of people do well with this extrinsic motivation. Putting it out there in the world helps keep you on track. This works really well if you are driven by extrinsic factors and when you have good people in your circle. Bring them in and even ask them to check in on you.
If this fills you with dread however, you may be a more intrinsically motivated person. In this case, look inwards for your drivers. Intrinsic motivation comes from your sense of personal achievement, pride and independence. It requires strong self discipline and accountability. It is a good idea to write down your goals and set deadlines that you adhere to strictly. Check in with your goals regularly.
Finally, be honest and choose the right one or best combination for you. If you’re inclined to say “I’m internally motivated,” but actually you’re giving yourself an easy way out then stop. You may well need some outside assistance.
So your new year’s resolution didn’t work out. This is when most people say, screw it, and give up entirely. The great news is now is the best time to get stuck in. You now know how to set goals that are right for you, so what are you waiting for? Don’t wait to get started, set a goal and start working towards it immediately.
These ideas can be applied to any goal in any walk of life. Tell me in the comments about your failures and speed bumps, how did you overcome them? If you need an extra nudge, talk to me or ask about my classes and let’s get to it.