It’s the end of the year and like most people, you’ve probably started thinking about your New Year’s resolutions. But did you know that by the second week in February, 80% of people who made resolutions have already failed at keeping them. Eighty percent. Resolutions are supposed to be firm decisions we make to do or not to do something and yet, most people fail at keeping them.
There are a couple of reasons why resolutions never worked for me and probably never worked for you as well. If they do, great; keep doing what you’re doing. But if they don’t, then keep reading on.
Why Resolutions Fail
We have become so used to breaking our resolutions, that we start to think it is ok to try a little and then give up. It’s a mindset thing. So why not ditch the resolutions and make some SMART goals instead? A goal, particularly if it’s a SMART goal is something we believe we can reach. It’s something that makes us work a little harder and not give up on the end goal.
Resolutions tend to be pretty vague. We want to lose weight, get back in shape, stop smoking or make more money. None of that is very specific. How much weight do you want to lose and in what time frame? When do you want to quit smoking and how are you going to get there? What does it mean to you to be in shape? How much money do you want to have in the bank and what do you want to save it up for?
SMART goals allow you to be a lot more specific. You can set attainable goals with a deadline and milestones or mini goals along the way. That’s what makes a goal a SMART goal. A year is sometimes too long of a time frame for single goals. And that’s what we make resolutions for, isn’t it? We make them on January 1st and we make them for the entire year.
There are two problems there. Early in January, we feel like we have lots and lots of time to get our act together. A couple of cookies or slices of pizza in January won’t hurt if we have until December 31st to lose the weight. It’s just a couple of cookies we say. Then time starts to get away from us and that’s when the 2nd problem arises. Losing 25 pounds over the course of a year seemed doable. But if you haven’t made any progress in October and have Halloween (think lots of candy), Thanksgiving and Christmas ahead of you (lots of food and parties), it now seems like an impossible goal to reach.
So, what should you do instead? Be more specific about your goals. What’s the goal you’d like to reach? Put down a number, or describe what your end goal looks like. When do you want to reach your goal by? It could be December 31st, but it doesn’t have to be.
Set Mini Goals
Next, set some mini goals along the way. If you have a big goal like using 24 pounds during the coming year, set mini goals of losing 2 pounds every month. Check in every couple of weeks and make sure you’re still on track. If you can, get ahead of schedule. Things will happen, you’ll get sick or go on vacation and abandon your workouts or healthy eating habits. Getting ahead of your goal schedule gives you a bit of a buffer to work with. And all this tracking will help you keep accountable and stick with your resolutions well into spring and summer.
If you’re looking for a way to get started with plotting out your goals, I created a free SMART Goals Guide and Worksheet. This guide will walk you through what S.M.A.R.T. goals are and how to set your goals so that you actually achieve them. Fill out the info below to receive your free goals guide and worksheet.