Once more, that time of year has rolled around when many folks attempt to wipe the proverbial slate clean and get a fresh start by setting New Year’s Resolutions for becoming a better version of themselves, improving the quality of their lives, or acquiring a better level of health. Although these are great aspirations, the way that we approach them can impact whether they get ditched to the wayside in a few weeks or we actually follow through.
I’ve never really been a fan of resolutions, I prefer to think of setting goals for the future and focusing on changing lifestyle and habits, and I encourage you to do the same. Making a resolution without setting goals and changing habits and lifestyles is not likely to go very far. According to various sources like U.S. News & World, at least 80 percent of resolutions are abandoned by the second week in February.
Long-Term Goals and Short Term Goals
Set larger, bigger-picture, long-term goals and then break those down into several smaller more specific short-term goals that help you move towards your larger long-term goals. In other words, permit yourself to reach your larger goals in small steps instead of all at once. Set goals incrementally with a reasonable amount of time to meet each deadline.
Choose short-term goals that help you work towards building new habits, values, identity, and lifestyle because these are the types of actions that will help you stay committed to the long-term changes you want to make. If you continue with the same old patterns, they will sabotage your efforts to change.
For example, let’s say your long-term goal this year is to remain compliant with a low-carb diet. In order to reach this destination, you must change your habits, values, lifestyle, and identity. Therefore, short-term goals you will need to set to help assist you in being compliant with a low-carb diet would include actions such as: changing the way you shop, where you shop, prepare your meals, where you socialize and with whom, and rules for the types of food you allow in the house to name a few.
In another example, let’s say your long-term goal is to improve your health and quality of life despite whatever health condition you may be facing. In this case, the short-term goals that will help you be successful would include actions such as: eating more animal protein and fat, reducing carb intake, eliminating grains and sugar from the diet, starting each morning with mindfulness-based meditation and deep breathing exercises, practicing mindfulness-based yoga, spending more time with nature, simplifying you life, becoming more informed about your health condition, avoiding environmental toxins, and showing yourself more compassion, kindness, and understanding. Each of these short-term goals helps you change habits, values, identity, and lifestyle, all of which will support you in moving in the direction you want to go.
Write Down Your Goals and Be Specific
Make your goals specific and write them down. This provides you with a higher level of clarity and focus around what it is you are trying to achieve. A report in Forbes has shown that people who vividly describe their goals in written form are “anywhere from 1.2 to 1.4 times more likely to successfully accomplish their goals.” This is due in part to the fact that many studies have shown that we remember things better when we write them down and we also have better memory for material that we have generated ourselves over material we have simply read elsewhere.
When your goals stay active in your memory, you will keep working on them. It has also been shown that sharing our goals with others will help us stay on track because it holds us accountable.
Adjust Your Goals and Be Kind
When working towards your goals, be kind and patient with yourself. Don’t set yourself up to fail by setting goals that are unattainable. Be flexible. If stumbling blocks arise or you have not met the deadline you put in place, don’t give up, but grant yourself the freedom to adjust the goal and reset the target date. Consider whether the short-term goals should be broken down into even smaller goals. Setbacks are a natural component in the process of change which are bound to crop up. Forgive yourself when they occur and keep moving forward one step at a time.
Celebrate Your Achievements
Be sure to acknowledge your success when you reach a goal and give yourself praise. Take some time to enjoy the feeling of satisfaction and to appreciate the growth you have achieved. Reflect on where you were and where you’re going next.
When you set goals in this fashion, they will be easier to achieve and produce less stress.
Remember, to achieve long-term success with meeting our goals to improve our health or diet compliance, the changes we make must be permanent and on-going, not temporary. We need to develop a new identity and values that we live by each day of the year and this is done by choosing goals that help us change daily habits and lifestyles until they become our normal patterns that occur automatically without effort.
If you need support working towards your goals for a higher level of health or making necessary changes in your diet, contact me today for a health coaching session that will help you clarify your objectives, establish a plan of action, be in command of your healing path and proceed onward with strength and confidence.
Happy New Year to You!
J. Luciani. Why 80 Percent of New Year’s Resolutions Fail. December 2015
Mark Murphy. Neuroscience Explains Why You Need To Write Down Your Goals If You Actually Want To Achieve Them. April 2018.