It's the end of January and you've all had ample opportunity to give those new years resolutions a good crack. New changes and new habits have been made and you are all feeling good about the “new you”.
Wait. What? You haven’t quite achieved what you set out to do? You are not quite the 'new you' you had imagined?
In all seriousness, I know this can be disappointing.
We entered the New Year bright eyed and bushy tailed, with plenty of goals in mind, but for many of us, it doesn't take long for the momentum to subside and we go back to our 2019 habits.
So, what’s your excuse? What happened to halt your progress?
Whatever the reason, it’s time to readjust those resolutions and get back into it. Here are seven tips to boost your goal setting process so you can re-start your resolutions again tomorrow.
Prioritise Your Goals: Take a look at the goals you have for this year, and line them up from easiest to hardest. Or most attractive to those you are least motivated to do right now. Go through the list in this order, so you are working through from the ones you know you will do first. This maximises your chance of success. You can leave the harder goals for later when you have increased your confidence.
One Goal At A Time: In the real world, people tend to have several different goals that they intend to pursue all at once. Goals like to compete with each other and we don’t want that. Don’t overwhelm your system; just pick one at a time. Once you have maintained that one, then you can move on to another.
What Are Your New Actions: Once you have picked your goal of choice, break it down into a short term goal that involves some sort of behaviour. What action are you going to take? I know losing 10 kilograms might sound like a super plan, but how are you going to do it? Will you be walking it off? Jogging it off? Break it up into the smallest step possible. Know when you are going to it, how long you are going to do it and where you are going to do it. Be specific.
Be Your Own Accountability Buddy: When choosing a goal, you need to be accountable for it. Try not to be reliant on other people because they are not always on the same page as you nor available when you are. Don’t let their barriers become your barriers.
Choose Approach Over Avoidance Goals: Choose an action which will lead to you gaining something positive rather than depriving you. For example, if you are trying to become healthier, start with taking nice walks along the beach or joining an interesting dance class. You are gaining something this way. Leave the dieting out of it for now.
Progress: Perhaps you found that you were doing well for a couple of weeks with your resolutions before you turned back to your old ways. Research has shown that progress can cause us to abandon the goal we’ve worked so hard for. Part of you is thinking about your long-term goal (a healthier you or maybe a more organized house); the other wants immediate gratification as a reward (that new peanut butter Magnum; a weeks worth of binge-watching Netflix). If we are thinking we are doing well, sometimes our self-control buckles. Keep your eye on the prize and why you want it, rather than what you have done so far.
Relapse Is Ok: Relapse is returning to the old behaviour that you were trying to get rid of, and the reason why people give up when they muck up their resolutions – even to the point of waiting for a year to start back up again. Relapse is a normal part of any behaviour change; so don’t be put off by it. Just get back on the horse, or your treadmill, or whatever the new habit was. Persistence is the key to success in anything.
Goal setting takes a little more than just telling yourself you are going to do something. To make our resolutions stick we have to plan them well, and put effort into sustaining them.
Don’t be like everybody else and wait another 11 months before trying again.
Start again now, we are evolving individuals, so every step you take in the direction you want is a 'new you'.