Every year, more than 50% of Americans make New Years resolutions, but less than 10% are able to maintain those goals for more than 2 months. Maybe you plan to ring in 2021 with a new resolve to lose weight, exercise more, eat more homemade meals, not sweat the small stuff.
How can you be sure that your determination to get healthier in 2021 sticks around past Valentine's Day? We're here to tell you!
Experts say that in 2021 — or any year, really — writing out one or two specific, small and attainable goals can help develop confidence and a sense of pride, improving your overall well-being. Right now, we could all use a little extra positivity in our lives. Here's how to get started.
Determine Your Motivations
We've all been there. January 1st comes around and all of those plans you had to start the New Year on the right foot go out the window! You promise that you'll start tomorrow, but tomorrow becomes the next day and so on until you realize it's mid-March and you've forgotten what your resolutions even were. We're here to tell you that just because its the first of January doesn't mean you'll automatically have motivation to start (or stop) a new habit.
You won't be able to sustain a new habit or behavior change unless you have internal motivation. So when you think about what you want to change in the new year, be sure to also think about where your motivation for this change comes from. Why do you want to make them? What makes you feel committed to reaching your goals?
For example, if your goal is to lose weight in the new year, think about what is making you want to lose that weight. Is it because you're trying to conform to an unrealistic body size? Or has your doctor told you that you need to lose weight for your health? Those are both external motivators which aren't as likely to help you reach your goal. However, if you are hoping to lose weight because healthy foods and exercising makes you feel better both mentally and physically, those are internal motivator and are more likely to make lasting, long-term changes.
Start with Small, Achievable Goals
It is totally fine to make a big goal, such as "lose weight", but it is imperative to break that down into specific, measurable, and achievable goals. We use the acronym SMART. Here is an example of making a SMART goal for a resolution to lose weight.
Specific: Make sure you make your goal specific! For example, "lose weight" is very vague. Losing 15 pounds is specific.
Measurable: Make sure your goal is measurable. For example "eat healthier" is vague, but "make at least 5 dinners/week at home" is measurable.
Achievable: Make sure your goal is achievable. For example, if you want to exercise more often and then make a goal to go to the gym 7 days a week when you know that you only really have the time to go 3 days, that isn't achievable. Make your goal to go to the gym 3 days/week.
Realistic: Make sure you are being realistic with your goal setting. Making a goal to lose 50 bounds in 4 weeks is not realistic. But losing 1-2 pounds per week is! So you could set a goal to lose 8 pounds in 4 weeks or 50 pounds in 6.5 months.
Time-bound: Make sure your goal is time-bound. For example, a goal to lose weight is not time-bound, but a goal to lose 20 pounds in 2.5 months is!
Make a Plan and Write it Down
Once you have your SMART goals in place, put forth a plan to reach that goal! If your SMART goal is to lose 20 pounds by Valentines Day, then start to create a plan for your exercise routine, meals, etc. The more you dissect your goal and make specific, smaller goals, the easier it will be to see the path to victory without getting overwhelmed. You are more likely to anticipate obstacles and determine ways to overcome them when you make a plan.
Write your goals down! This will not only help you think through your goals, but also help make them more memorable. Sharing your goals to other people can also help you stay accountable.
Give Yourself Grace
This is the most important tip we can give anyone planning on making New Years resolutions. You may fall off the wagon here or there, but giving yourself grace and finding your way back is the number one most important tip!
2020 has been a tough year for everyone and making new habits can be daunting. Make SMART goals, make a plan, and give yourself grace if you make a mistake or fall of the path. Whether you are planning to save more money, practice meditation, lose weight, or learn a skill, these tips are sure to get you there!