It’s getting to that time of year again—turkeys are being roasted, lights and trees are going up and the new year is right around the corner. According to finder.com.au, 42% of Australians made New Years’ resolutions this year, but out of these, only 8% were successful in maintaining their goals.
We can thank those beautiful green smoothies and post gym selfies on our Instagram feeds for getting health and fitness the top spot in this year’s resolutions with 58%. But why do we struggle so hard to keep these resolutions and what should we do differently to maintain them?
1. Make S.M.A.R.T. Goals
There’s a famous quote by Steve Smith, “the difference between a goal and a dream is a deadline.” You can’t just wake up on January 1st and say “this year I’m going to lose 10kg,” you need to devise a set of goals that can be tracked and have a plan to follow. This is where the S.M.A.R.T goals model becomes your best friend.
Specific: Have an exact plan with clear goals.
Measureable: Create goals where progress can be easily tracked and measured.
Achievable: Ensure your goal is challenging but achievable. If it’s too far out of reach, you may relapse and lose focus and determination.
Realistic: Like achievable, your goal needs to be realistic, relevant and have a clear purpose.
Time-Bound: Have a deadline. That way you will have something to work towards.
For example, if your goal was to lose 10kg, you might say:
I’m going to lose 0.5kg each week
I’m going to weigh and measure myself every Monday and note down my results to track my progress
I’m going to do some form of physical activity 4-5 times a week
In 20 weeks, I will have achieved my goal and will maintain this healthy lifestyle change
By writing down and creating a plan that can be tracked and followed, you’re more likely to maintain your goal.
2. Make One Change at a Time
When making big changes and alterations to our lives, many of us forget about the willpower and self-control we often need to keep our resolutions. Psychologist Ian Newby-Clark, Ph.D., says that this why many resolutions don’t work. “Most resolutions actually require many behavioral changes,” he says. “A successful weight-loss program, for example, calls for more than just a decision to eat less. You have to shop and cook differently, start or ramp up an exercise routine, maybe even ditch certain social or family events.” He says that if we think through these aspects and processes, it will boost our success rates. Thinking about all these changes for each goal, it can end up being too overwhelming so our willpower runs out and that’s when we relapse.
3. Have Fun With It
It doesn’t have to be all work and no play. If your goal is weight loss driven per se, and you don’t like the gym, do something else – even just freestyle dancing around your living room to your favourite tunes counts! Remember when you were a child at the playground? You were having fun – although you didn’t think about it, technically, that was still exercise. Do whatever it is to eliminate your stress and have fun with it. This will make your changes easier and more attainable.
So in the next few weeks when you’re creating goals for 2016, take a minute to sit down, write it down and analyse it completely. If you’re driving along and just thinking about changes you’ll make next year, your success rates will be severely lowered. Don’t dream—set goals. You hold the key to the new you.