A New Year often gives people a sense of a new start, a renewed ambition toward self improvement after getting lost in the busy holiday season. To make use of ambition is a wonderful thing! It can also be difficult starting off with having stayed up late the night before, not to mention the cold weather can inhibit that inspiration to get out and run first thing in the morning! This article is designed to empower you to succeed at your goals.
1. Set goals, not resolutions. Resolutions carry a connotation of finality. That X definitely will happen! Or Y will never happen again!while this is a nice thought, it denies humanity and the fact that circumstances in life (like illness) are changing and not always predictable. Setting goals means you don’t have to give up just because you’ve fallen off the wagon. You can re-dedicate to your intention and start again. Most likely, the targets you’ve chosen are not so simple, else you’d already have accomplished them! Forming new good habits, success, takes practice. Allow for that! Don’t shame yourself for mistakes or missteps, shake it off and keep going.
2. Define effort-steps. On numerous occasions, I have heard people decide they want to lose weight or get in shape in the new year. But what does this mean? Results-based goals are a fine starting place, but they are often too vague. How are you going to achieve the results you’ve decided on? Will the weight miraculously disappear off your body? Effort steps are concrete things you are going to do to help you reach your result-goals. “I am going to reduce my fast food intake to 1 time per month” and “I am going to run or walk at least 15 minutes 2 days a week” are clear effort-steps that can set you on your path to success.
3. Plan. Most likely, it is more than just a lack of discipline that has gotten in the way of making good intentions a reality in the past. Have you set the same resolution year in and year out, without success? What has gotten in the way? If you are intending to add something to your routine, this will likely take some time, that will have to come from another activity that already has space in your life. Where will the sacrifices be? Are there temptations you face? Are there steps you can take to eliminate these temptations? Are there resources that will help make your goals easier? Plan Bs such as some workout routines on Youtube when the rain prevents you from taking that walk? I like using apps like Balanced to help remind me of my goals so they don’t slip past me.
4. Be realistic. An ambitious person might declare, “I’m going to work out every day!” If you’ve never worked out before, muscle soreness, among other things, have the potential of creating discouragement early in the new process. It’s okay to work up to things and set stepwise goals. A goal such as working out 2-3 days a week allows for delays due to illness or weather or early work meetings, without having to throw you off your game completely. If the goal is a limitation, you may want to consider an occasional ‘cheat day/moment’ so you don’t end up feeling rebellious against the deprivation you impose on yourself!It is also wise to be mindful of the number of goals you set in regards to your progress. I like to set more than one, as it gives me more opportunities for success! However, too many goals can create a lack of focus to be able to make progress on any one. A few goals, perhaps addressing different aspect of your lives, can help create balance and well-rounded growth.
5. Be positive. Slip ups happen! People are not perfect! Change takes time and practice, not shame or self-belittling. Be gentle with yourself in this regard. Maybe you are working out 4 days a week when you set a goal of two. Fabulous! But the weight’s not coming off yet? IT’S OKAY! Maybe you’re in the process of turning fat into muscle. Feel good about taking the right effort-steps and know you’re working toward a healthier future, even if you’re not seeing your desired results as soon as hoped. Celebrate the results you do see, give yourself credit for the efforts you’re putting in. You deserve it! If you see how you’re honoring yourself by following your intentions, it naturally reinforces your progress. Beating up on yourself for not getting it perfect often makes people want to give up.
6. Enlist support! Support feels good and can help keep you moving forward. Got a friend who shares your goals? Can you help motivate each other on the days you need it? Family and friends can offer encouragement and accountability. We are social creatures, and having to ‘do it all alone’ is difficult- it doesn’t have to be that way! See who in your life might be willing to check in with you or talk about challenges in regards to your goals. They don’t have to share the same goals in order to be supportive!
I wish you a fulfilling year of practicing new habits and healthy goals!