Anything worth having is worth fighting for.
Without fail every January individuals commit to going to the gym, eating healthier, quitting smoking, sticking to a budget… yet for some reason it only seems to last a short period of time. Welcome to New Year’s resolutions. So do New Year’s resolutions actually work? They can, if you set proper goals and make sure that you are mentally prepared for the challenge and have the desire to change.
The reason many resolutions fail is because most people set targets which are often unachievable as a starting point. They do not build into the resolution, but attempt to go all or none. “I am going to work out five times a week for an hour” but this individual has not worked out since last February when they made their prior resolution. Yet we tell our self “this year it will be different, this year I will stick with it.” Another key reason resolutions fail is that mentally we look at resolutions often as giving something up, something we desire, instead of it as gaining something positive. When we believe that we are depriving our self of something it is difficult to stay motivated.
If we truly want to make our resolutions last then there are some techniques that I believe may help you succeed this year. The first thing is to make sure that whatever you decide to change is something that you see will generate more benefit than loss. Sticking to a budget sounds great, but if it means that you have to deprive yourself of something you enjoy like eating out or engaging in extracurricular activities it will be difficult to mentally and behaviourally commit. Find a way to make your resolution more desirable than the action or behaviour that you are trying to adjust. Essentially it comes down to a what’s in it for me mindset. If you do not see any positive value or gain that exceeds the loss, it will not last long.
Second, make sure you set goals that are both challenging and achievable. If a goal is too challenging we quit as it is not sustainable, yet if it is too achievable it seems to simple so we also quit as we do not recognize the benefits or we feel the benefits are coming too slow. An acronym that people often find beneficial for setting healthy goals is S.M.A.R.T (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely). When setting goals, an important strategy to keep in mind is that goals can be adjusted. Do not feel that whatever you created must be the end goal, if you find it is to challenging or too achievable adjust the goal to fit your present abilities and continue to adjust as necessary. Finally, make your goals known to others and set check in dates to review and reward progress. This creates a sense of accountability, it’s like having a workout partner to motivate you to get to the gym.
Fulfilling a resolution is more than having something you desire in life, it takes dedication and hard work.
By Peter Irman (OTRS email)