5 Tips for Making a New Year's Resolution That Will Last
The beginning of the New Year is the time of brand new beginnings and renewed hope in change. It’s also the beginning of the age-old saga of setting New Year’s Resolutions that you’ll stay on track with through mid-February and will have completely forgotten about by mid March. Maybe you’ve given up on the internalized shame game and you’ve decided your only New Year’s Resolution going forward is to stop fooling yourself, and not even make one.
But, if you have a teeny tiny part of you still hopeful for change and have some things you’d like to achieve in 2019, then we’ve got 5 ways to make sure your Resolution is on track for success.
Therapists spend quite a deal of time developing goals and monitoring progress with clients. Goal setting is excruciating for some clients, as they struggle to identify possible solutions to their problem that feels larger than life. It’s difficult to boil down exactly what people would like to change, how willing they are to dedicate themself to the goal, and what smaller goals may need to pave the way to larger goals.
So, therapists have set a few guidelines to help make the most solid goals, the strategy is called SMART goals, and it encourages 5 areas of specificity in creating great goals.
The sting of failure is hard and heavy, and we do not need more things adding on shame
Does your New Year’s Resolution hold up to these 5 questions?
1. Is it Specific? “I want to…”
Right here is where most NY resolutions go to die- but really they never get a fighting chance. Be specific of what you want, and review it. Use your good ol’ ‘who,’ ‘what,’ ‘where,’ and, ‘how’ words.
“Get Healthier” is a no no here…. Try to narrow it down to something more specific to address what kind of healthy you want to chieve. Do you want to lower your BMI, exercise more, schedule that doctor appt you’ve been putting off, order less UberEats, reach out to your support system more to become more mentally healthy? All of these would qualify as becoming, “more healthy,” which one is the most important place for you to start this year?
2. Is it Measurable? “I will know I have when…”
Every goal needs to be measurable so that you know when you’ve reached it. Ask yourself “how much?” “how many times?” “How will I know when I’ve reached it?”
Is it a number that’s changing, a frequency, or a percentage? Maybe you read an hour a week, but want to start reading 1 hour twice a week, or 3 hours a week. Maybe you want to eat more vegetables and you want to cook with 25% more vegetables every night.
If your goals aren’t measurable you may miss the joy and empowerment that comes from realizing you’ve actually achieved a goal. Make sure your goal is something you can measure so that you can better understand what it is you want to see change and what it will look like when it has changed, so that you can celebrate your hard work!
3. Is it Attainable? “I know I can because….”
This is a big land mine when it comes to New Year’s Resolutions, all the sudden people who haven’t been to the gym since March are setting goals to go 7 days a week! No NO, we need our goals to be attainable and reasonable.
Ask yourself “Is this something I can really do/attain/achieve?” “What are some things/people/supports that will help me?” “Am I already doing this and wanting to build onto/do it more?”
If you only have a family meal at Christmas and birthdays then you can’t expect to have your whole family start eating together 5 days a week right away. Successful goals are reasonable, to avoid the shame of failure.
If you want to start a blog this year, it will be more attainable if you already have people interested in reading, or you have time in your schedule to dedicate to it, or you already enjoy writing! These are the things that you will identify that will help you determine how attainable this goal is for you right now.
Are you struggling to come up with some reasons? You may want to scale back and make your first goal more attainable - maybe i don’t like to write yet so maybe i want to start journaling instead, or maybe i’ve never even read or followed someone’s blog before, those can be your stepping-stone goals towards the bigger goals.
4: Is it Relevant? “I want to because….”
There’s a lot of ‘R’ words for this one: Is this goal Reasonable and Relevant for you? Will it be Rewarding? They all get to the same idea of determining how motivated you really are to achieve this goal. Be honest with yourself. Is this something you care enough about to stay dedicated to? How much does it mean to you?
It’s not a big secret that i hate running, I believe people when that say it gets easier when you do it more (which I do believe is true for most forms of exercise and routine self care) but it’s not for me. Hence, why my New Year’s Resolution is never about wanting to run more - I WISH I loved running and could feel like a gazelle exploring all the streets in Oak Park, but I know it’s not going to happen. Even though I may like the idea of being a runner, I know I don’t want to be a runner ENOUGH to achieve this goal, it’s not that important to me.
5: Is it Time-Sensitive? “I want this done by…”
Are New Year’s Resolutions supposed to be for the whole year? Or Forever? What if we bucked this idea of open-ended goals that are waiting to fail and put an end cap on our goal? Ask yourself, “what is my goal date?” “How often can I actually do this?” “When do I want this to be complete?”
Think about when your New Year’s Resolution typically dwindles off. What if you set it up so that your goal is only through March? That way it’s less of the burden of failure. Studies show that it takes about 8 weeks to start a new routine, if you’re goal is to go to a workout class every Saturday morning through March, and you do (yeay you for reachin’ that goal) - by the time April comes I bet you’ll still be going, because it’s now a routine for you.
Having regular reminders of your goals is a key step in achieving them!
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Print it off and put it in a place where you’ll stay motivated to achieve.