It's a brand new year and the perfect time for a new start!
At the start of any new year, you may be feeling motivated to start making new changes but skeptical about seeing them through because of failed past attempts over the years.
While resolutions are well intended they commonly fall through within a few weeks to months. This is because people lack planning and clarity around their goals. Falling through on your goals isn't about willpower, it's about being prepared and choosing a goal that is meaningful to you.
So how can you achieve your goals and resolutions in 2020?
Today we are giving you our top tips on how to actually achieve and smash your goals this year, it's time to get to work!
Have you ever followed a diet or started a workout just because someone else told you to do it? Or maybe you felt pressure because everyone else was doing it? This is a recipe for disaster because whatever you have decided to do is usually not something you feel excited or motivated about. In order to stick to your goal, it should be something that is motivating and gives you purpose. Getting very clear on why you are doing something needs to be the first step in setting your goals. If it doesn't get you excited it's probably not the right goal.
Create a realistic timeline
We recommend setting a deadline for your specific goal because this increases the sense of urgency and also lessens the likelihood or putting it off. You will also have a date in mind to assess your progress and celebrate your work. Just make sure it is a realistic timeframe to accomplish whatever you are doing. For example, losing 20 pounds in one week is not very realistic and also not a healthy way of losing weight. Or maybe you want to run a marathon but you have never run before. Start with 15 minutes, then 20, then 30, etc. Start small and you can always work your way up.
Give yourself adequate time to accomplish this goal but also not too far in the future that it becomes irrelevant.
Write it down!
There's something about writing that makes anything more official, and satisfying. But we don't mean on the computer, do it old school and take out your pen and paper! Use present tense phrases such as "I am creating..." or "I am in the process of..." or "I am committing to.." to make it sound real and confirm it to yourself. Hang your piece of paper somewhere visible where you can see it every day.
The right goal will motivate you to accomplish it. And this requires specificity. Having a vague goal such as losing weight or getting healthy is not enough. This doesn't create excitement and allows no means of measuring progress or success. So take the time to be very specific about what you want to accomplish. Follow the formula SMART to create your goals and ensure you hit them.
You don't have to climb the mountain in one day. In fact, doing too much increases the risk of falling off the wagon and giving up on your goals. So take it slow and create smaller gradual goals to hit. This increases motivation and is much more rewarding. Over time you can increase your goals as you work through them. Some examples of small goals to implement:
- Replace 1 meal with whole foods instead of processed foods
- Add a side salad to your lunch, or a side of veggies
- Try 1 new healthy recipe per week
- Park farther from the office, or get off a few bus stops away to walk
- Take the stairs instead of the elevator
- Take a 20-minute walk every day
- Avoid electronics 30 minutes before bedtime
- Meditate for 5 minutes every night before bed
Have a plan
It's all well and good to have a goal but do you know how you will get there? What are the individual steps you will need to take to accomplish your goal?
This is one of the most important steps because this is where the implementation comes into play. Anyone can have a goal but your action plan will determine if you get there or not.
Again, take out some pen and paper and write down specific action steps that will help you move closer to your goal.
Work the muscle of the mind
Taking action is mandatory to achieve goals, but you also have to work the mind. Creating new habits and behaviors will involve changing the way your brain works. And with this usually comes some resistance or even self-sabotage. This is why it's so important to work on mindset while adopting new goals.
By achieving a new goal you are voting for a new identity of yourself.
Adopting a new identity is when you focus on who you want to be, not the desired outcome. For instance, if you want to achieve a certain weight while staying the same person, you may likely experience self-sabotage while reversing to the same old beliefs and behaviors of your current self. This is why we sabotage. Because we don't believe we are that person.
So once you establish what kind of goal you want to achieve you also need to decide the type of person you want to become. Journaling can be a great way of identifying the habits, behaviors, and beliefs of the type of person who can accomplish the goal you are after.
You don't have to, nor should you, work on your goals alone. Of course, you are going to do have to do the work on your own but when you have a support system the odds of you accomplishing your goals increase significantly. This doesn't have to be a professional coach, though this can accelerate your growth and progress, but can simply be a friend or colleague who can keep you accountable. When you do something with others you are more likely to stick to it plus you also get time to socialize! Win-win.
As humans, we tend to overlook our progress but taking the time to stop and look at how far you have come will increase your motivation to keep going. It's important to give yourself a pat on the back for all of the work that you do. Self-praise is the most important praise you will ever receive so don't forget to give it to yourself!
A good way to do this is to establish monthly check-ins and to treat yourself when you reach a certain goal. This could look like a massage, manicure, or going out to your favorite restaurant!
Make habit-forming easier
Whether you are transitioning into a healthier diet or a new workout routine, adopting new habits always feels uncomfortable in the beginning. That's because anything new or foreign represents a potential threat. As humans, we are always seeking the easiest route possible which requires the least amount of effort, whether we are conscious of this or not.
Your old habits have become habitual and automatic making them easy, whether they be good or bad. The easiest way to make a habit stick? Through repetition. The more frequently you do something the more likely it will stick. And the easier you can make this on yourself the less likely you will put up a fight. So if you plan on running in the morning get your workout gear ready the night before, if you want to eat healthy during the week prep healthy meals on Sunday, etc. By setting yourself up for success beforehand, you have less of a chance of backing out.
Talk about it
In addition to writing down your goal, talking out loud can also reinforce your new decision. By sharing with others you are also confirming what you are doing, no backing out now! It's a lot harder to give up on something if other people already know you have committed to it.
Just be mindful about who you share with and make sure these are people who will support you.
Enjoy the process
Track and recognize your progress instead of making it all about the end result. Make your goals a fun challenge for you to accomplish so that you can actually look forward to making these changes on a daily basis. Don't forget to reward yourself along the way and remember, it's about the journey, not the destination.
Laurence Annez is a Certified Nutritional Practitioner and Health Coach, specializing in PCOS and women's hormones. She also holds a degree in Creative Writing and has extensive experience writing on health and wellness topics. Laurence's mission is to inspire and motivate individuals to take control of their own health and reach their ultimate health goals.