As we approach the end of the year, many people are starting to think of their New Years Resolutions. Many of us set health-related goals, like losing weight, eating more veggies, exercising every day, or quitting smoking. Getting control over our health and feeling great is of course a wonderful thing! But, I’m here to be a Debbie Downer. New Years Resolutions on their own simply do. not. work. But in this blog, I share what does.
PS: Make sure to read all the way to the end for a very special offer to help you reach your health goal this year!
Tell me if this has happened to you…
It’s December 31st and you want to set a New Year’s Resolution. You set a lofty goal (“I’m gonna lose ___ lbs!”, “I’m gonna run 10km every day!”, “I’m gonna quit eating fast food cold turkey and just eat salad for lunch every day!”). On January 1st, you take off full steam ahead. Things go well for the first week or two, but then life gets in the way – you get busy, it’s cold out, it’s harder than it seemed. You lose momentum and your motivation tanks. By the end of January, that New Year’s Resolution is all but forgotten.
Sound familiar? Me too. Been there, done that, too many times.
Here’s the thing. New Year’s Resolutions simply don’t work. It’s estimated that about half of adults usually make a New Year’s Resolution, but only about 8% of people who set one actually achieve their goal. In the first week, 72% of people are keeping their resolution – by one month, it’s just over 50%.
So why does this happen? There are a number of reasons… We set goals that are too lofty or set too high expectations, we don’t make an action plan or strategize against barriers, we don’t follow up or reflect on our progress…
Say for example that you want to lose weight this year. Your conversation with yourself might go something like this:
“Self, listen up. You’re gonna lose (insert probably large number here) pounds this year. It’s gotta happen fast too because I am done with all this extra weight. I know you’re busy this time of year and you’ve been living on takeout and convenient foods for the last month or so, and I know you haven’t looked at a gym since last January. But we’re going all out this time. THIS YEAR is the one, cuz THIS YEAR I’m determined! Look at me go! I already bought (insert name of trendy extreme workout program or diet book) and we are starting RIGHT AWAY on January 1st! Slim sexy self, here I come!”
I can almost guarantee that by March, this conversation will be all but forgotten. This is by no means meant to be a slam against you if this is your conversation with yourself – if losing weight (or whatever your goal is) means a lot to you then it is WORTH IT! But, this post is meant to help you set a goal that you can reach, that can keep you motivated, and can stick with you till you see it through.
When we set these kinds of goals, we are setting ourselves up for failure. Of course losing weight, eating healthy foods, exercising, quitting smoking, etc are perfectly awesome health goals (go for it!), but we need to set a strategy to get there. Otherwise, it’s just words with no substance behind it.
When I teach goal setting and work with clients to set their health goals, we look at goal setting a bit differently:
- Can the big goal be broken down into smaller or more manageable goals?
- For example, “I’m gonna lose ___ pounds” could be broken down into smaller goals – 5lbs by January 30, 10% of my start weight within 3 months. It can also be broken down into behavioural goals like adding exercise or adjusting meal patterns that will help to lead towards that main goal.
- Is the goal realistic and achievable?
- Setting lofty goals or having very high expectations of ourselves can lead to major disappointment and is very demotivating. Your absolute end goal can still be that big idea you had in mind – but maybe we need to work on another goal (or goals) that is a bit more realistic to get you on the way there.
- Is there an action plan or strategy?
- If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. “I’m gonna lose weight” without an action plan (like scheduling activity in your day or meal planning and prepping) just isn’t going to happen.
- What barriers might get in your way?
- You will face barriers along the way to getting to your goal, that’s a guarantee. But planning for these barriers in advance will help you easily overcome them when they do come up. If your goal is to quit smoking, consider what triggers might tempt you to smoke again such as going to a party, a coffee break at work, or stressful situations. With a strategy in place that you can immediately go to when something threatens your progress, you are WAY more likely to stick to your guns.
- Do we need to adjust this goal along the way?
- After a period of time, reflect on your goal to see what is working, what is not, what could change to help you get there, or if new goals need to be set because you already reached some or some are no longer relevant to you. That reflection and review is so important for longer-term goals, because our situation will change over time!
If a goal is set with a purpose and a strategy, not on a whim just because it’s New Year’s Eve, you’ll have way more success!
Now here’s some good news.
I’ve been working with clients on goal setting, specifically with health goals, for over 8 years. I’ve decided this year to offer an e-mail course to help even more people (that includes you!) to reach your goals. Why? Because you deserve to feel happy and healthy this year!
Introducing the New Year, New You email course.
In this email course, you’ll get weekly emails for the month of January with tips to help you set health goals, create an action plan to reach those goals, and adjust your strategy as time goes on. You’ll have a better understanding of what motivates you, what challenges you might face in getting to your goal, and how to overcome those barriers as they come.
I’m even throwing in a sample 1 week meal plan with recipes, because I’m just a nice person (and also an RD, so I had to give you something food related!)
*~*Did I mention that this is all FREE?*~*
Sign up here to get started on the road to a healthier you this New Year.