Ditch the Resolutions and Make Real Goals

I don’t know about you, but I learned a long time ago that New Year’s resolutions just don’t work. Many of us use January 1st as a day to re-evaluate our lives. Fresh year equals fresh start right? The problem is when everyone else is making the same goals at the same time things can get mighty hectic! If your plan was to lose weight or get in shape you may have noticed the gym was extra busy over the past few weeks and you may have lost interest in going. Maybe your plan was to pay off your credit cards but then you got the bill for all of your holiday spending, that plan went down the drain with a quart of ice cream. The result: after a few weeks many of those resolutions have been broken. We just chalk it up to silly dreams and all have a good laugh. Oh well, “maybe next year” we tell ourselves.

Now that a month has gone by it is time to re-evaluate those resolutions to figure out what is working and what isn’t. If you are one of the lucky few who managed to keep your resolution, congrats! Keep at it. This post is not for you. But, if you are like the rest of us, let’s take a fresh look and figure out what went wrong and how to move forward with a plan.

For the purposes of this article, I’m going to use the common goal to lose weight but feel free to substitute any of your priorities. Here are some common mistakes:

1. Making too many goals at once
A big problem with resolutions is that we make a list of EVERYTHING that we want to change in our lives. Pretty soon we get overwhelmed with trying to do too much at once and give up. Common ones for me are to lose weight/get in shape, get organized and get out of debt. These are all big goals that can become overwhelming.

It is best to choose one or two priorities at a time, then break them into bite-sized actions so you can achieve them. Once you are making progress with one goal, and are confident that you have created momentum, you can move on to the next.

2. Creating goals that aren’t realistic or measurable
Say I chose losing weight but I decided that I want to lose 50 pounds in 2 months. For most, that is not realistic or achievable. It is best to set goals that you can accomplish in a set time frame. If, instead, I wanted to lose 2 pounds a week or 10 pounds in a month, I would have a much better chance of success. Plus, once I have achieved those mini-goals I will get a boost of confidence which will make me much more likely to keep going!

3. Failing to plan
You may tell yourself that this year you are going to lose weight but unless you figure out how you are going to do it, it most likely won’t happen. It is not about willpower, it is about planning! If you made a goal but didn’t change any of your habits, you’ve set yourself up to fail. You’ll wake up the next morning to all the same junk food and cave. If, on the other hand, you decide to join a gym or make a doctor’s appointment, you have the start of a plan. Then you actually need to do it! Part of the plan may be to evaluate the types of food you surround yourself. Make a list and go grocery shopping to buy fresh produce and fruit instead of packaged and processed foods. When you wake up to healthy options and a game plan you’ll have a better chance of success.

4. Not having set time frames for achievement and re-evaluation
As I said earlier, setting realistic goals and giving them a time frame is essential. If you never figure out when you want to accomplish something you have really just made a wish. These types of wishes seldom come true. If you give yourself a realistic deadline to accomplish your goal, like a week or a month, you have just made yourself accountable! At the end of that short time frame you can re-evaluate and begin to figure out possible next steps.

5. Not writing them down
Numerous studies have shown that the act of writing down your goals increases the chances of achieving them. When you take the time to write down your goals, and the steps you need to achieve them, you are much more likely to get what you want. It is almost as if just by the act of writing you are creating a contract with yourself which carries that much more meaning.

Now that 2017 has begun and the craziness of the holidays has passed, I hope you take the time to figure out what you really want over the coming year. I wish you the very best in accomplishing what you set out to do!

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