At the beginning of every January, many of us feel hopeful about the upcoming year and resolve to make some big changes in our lives. But by January 31, statistics say 92% of us have given up on those resolutions we so hopefully set barely one month earlier. The following are some tips for making and keeping your resolutions as we move into 2019:
Watch your language! We know that what we tell ourselves makes a difference in how we feel about things. Ultimately how we feel about something will then determine how we behave or respond. Keeping this in mind, tell yourself you are setting goals for the New Year, as opposed to making a New Year’s resolution. Goal setting tends to imply a time line that has steps associated with achieving it and is overall more flexible in nature. Making a resolution can feel like it has a more rigid or limited time frame with little room to adjust or make changes as needed. This can leave us feeling pressured to accomplish our resolution quickly and then feel like we failed when we don’t accomplish what we resolved to do.
Be SMART! When identifying your goals for the New Year, using the SMART technique can help make the process more manageable. This is a technique often used by businesses, but can apply to our personal goals as well!
- S=Specific. Make your goal specific and identify what it is exactly you are trying to achieve. Do you want to live a healthier lifestyle, save more money, or be kinder to others
- M= Measurable. Determine how will you know you are near achieving your goal. If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, maybe this means you are moving toward your goal by having an annual exam, including more fruits and vegetables in your diet or taking the stairs instead of the elevator. When determining how you will measure your success, think of all the steps involved that could indicate movement toward your goal. The small steps matter! “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!” – Lao-Tzu
- A= Attainable. Make sure the goal you have set for yourself is one you can achieve! What will you/your life look like/be like once you have attained your goal? Creating a collage of images that depict your goals can also help keep you motivated toward attaining them.
- R= Relevant. Is the goal you have set for yourself one that makes sense for you in your life? Be sure that you are setting a goal that is important to you. If you are setting a goal in which you do not feel personally invested, you may be setting yourself up for failure before you even begin!
- T= Time Bound. What is the time frame in which you are hoping to achieve your goal? It is important to give yourself enough time to reach whatever goal you choose and be willing to consider extending the time frame if you realize your initial time frame was not enough.
Practice makes progress! Once you have set your goals for the New Year, be sure to express gratitude for any progress you have made toward your goals and to have compassion toward yourself when you discover you have gotten off track. Remember that achieving goals is less about how quickly you get there and more about not giving up along the way!
Jennifer Hodgson is a Behavioral Health Therapist in Iron River, Wisconsin.