How many times have you made New Year’s resolutions but didn’t keep them? You’re certainly not alone. In fact, 91% of people who make resolutions don’t achieve them. The problem isn’t necessarily laziness or a lack of effort — how you make your goals may be part of the problem. Keep reading to learn how to break the cycle and make more lasting changes to your life.
Understand What You Want To Change
New Year’s resolutions, especially those involving healthy habits, can be incredibly vague. We may say, “I want to lose weight,” but our ideas often end there. We don’t precisely define what we want to achieve — or when we do, we sound like we’re trying to take Omaha Beach by ourselves. Consider the person who says, “I want to lose 100 pounds by June,” and you understand how unreasonable that sounds.
Sure, you may want to lose weight or even achieve a total body transformation. However, big goals like these involve lots of smaller steps. Breaking down those ambitious objectives into tinier pieces is critical to improving your odds of success. You must also understand that multiple factors affect your body’s condition: nutrition, exercise, genetics, and sleep patterns. Mental and emotional health are also important parts of the total package.
Assess Your Current Habits
Before you map your journey, you must know your starting point. That means assessing where you’re at and what you’re doing right now. Objective observation is key. If your goal involves improving your diet, start recording what you eat during meals and snacks. For improving sleep, keep a detailed journal that includes when you go to bed, when you wake up, and what you do before you sleep (for example, scrolling Instagram for an hour). You may want to do this for at least a week or two to collect comprehensive data on your current habits. Only then can you accurately identify potential opportunities for change.
Start With Smaller Goals
Choosing attainable goals starts with understanding their scope. “I want to eat more vegetables” is generic. But “I want to eat an extra serving of vegetables each day” is more specific. Similarly, it’s better to set an objective like “I want to walk 15 minutes on three days this week” instead of “I want to work out more.” The more specific your goals are, the easier it is to make them smaller and easier to achieve. Once you accomplish one, you can build on that success to strive for more.
Make a Detailed Plan
You’ve undoubtedly heard the saying, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” It sounds cliche, but there’s wisdom in this axiom. Your goals hold the key to making a plan to achieve them. If your objective is walking for 15 minutes three days every week, for example, you need the time, place, and supplies to make that happen. Schedule three time blocks on your calendar and choose an ideal location, such as a nearby park. Make sure you have proper walking shoes before you start.
Just as you track your current habits, you must also track your progress when working toward your new goals. You can keep an exercise or food journal in a notebook or by using a smartphone app. Also, don’t forget to set a timeframe for working on your new goals. If you’re successfully eating an additional serving of vegetables with every lunch for a week, you may feel ready to add a serving with every dinner during the following week.
Keep Working Your Plan
Goals aren’t set in stone. Not only does each achievement build on the last, but it also helps point you to the next steps. If you’re struggling with achieving a goal, you have the freedom to adjust details such as its scope or timeframe. Being patient with yourself is also essential. Look at setbacks as learning opportunities to discover why something didn’t work and how to adjust your plan. Remember that improving your health isn’t a race to a finish line — it’s an ongoing journey.