January 1: the day all your New Year’s resolutions go into effect. You wake up early, head to the gym, brush your teeth, eat healthy food, and come home for a great night of sleep. Fast forward a week later and you’re back to your fast food, late-night routine. Approximately 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by the second week of February, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t set them. The trick is setting the right resolutions so you’re more likely to make positive changes in your life.
Here are some tips for setting realistic and achievable New Year’s resolutions, courtesy of our Michigan counseling centers.
Quantify Each Resolution (Be Specific)
Generic resolutions lead to generic results. If you quantify your resolutions (assign measurable numbers to them), you are more likely to achieve your goals. For instance, instead of saying “I want to lose weight,” say “I want to lose 5 pounds a month and 50 pounds by the end of the year.” Then you can structure a plan to reach those numbers.
Create Short Term Milestones For Long Term Resolutions
If you only look at the big picture, you may feel overwhelmed with how to achieve it. It’s important to set “mini-goals” for yourself that add up to your big goals. The statement above about losing weight is a prime example. Five pounds a month translates to roughly one pound a week, so you can weigh yourself once a week to see if you are on track. If you maintain each of those weekly goals, you will automatically achieve your long-term resolution.
Note that having these miniature goals also gives you a chance for miniature accomplishments. If you can see progress happening, you will feel motivated to keep it up. If you choose to save $100 a week, you will quickly see your savings account build up. Every deposit will make your account grow, and you will feel proud of each and every week. This is the start of true success.
Focus On Lifestyle Improvements, Not Just The Numbers
While it is important to set measurable goals, it’s even more important to make positive lifestyle changes. In other words, you need to develop habits that will help your life as a whole. Perhaps instead of setting a weight loss goal, you can set a dietary or exercise goal: “I will only eat out once a week.” “I will go to the gym three times a week for 45 minutes a day.” There are still numbers involved, but the changes themselves are geared toward your life as a whole.
Encourage Yourself – Be Critical With Kindness
There is nothing wrong with acknowledging your flaws and trying to improve them. However, you should not let criticism get in the way of your success. Keep a positive attitude and take pride in your accomplishments. If you make a mistake, that’s OK. Hold yourself accountable, assess what went wrong, and find a way to prevent a similar mistake in the future.
The road to the “new you” is not a straight line. It may not even fit on the map from time to time. With consistent motivation and realistic expectations though, you can see positive transformations in the new year.