I feel like I rarely hear people sharing New Year’s resolutions anymore. Maybe it’s may age (I’m not in my 20’s and apparently with age the odds of achieving and maintaining resolutions goes way down), but everyone I talk to either describes failure-fatigue or says they’re keeping their resolution secret so as to avoid the risk of others watching while they potentially fail.
According to the research institute Statistic Brain, only 9.2% of us report successfully achieving our New Year’s Resolutions. You won’t be surprised to hear that the most common resolutions made are to lose weight and eat healthier (followed by life/self-improvement related goals, then financial goals). Why is the probability of success with these January-made goals so low? What is it that predicts whether or not someone will not only successfully achieve their goal, but also maintain it? If you want to shoot for healthy changes in the new year, but don’t know how to go about it in a way that sets you up for success, read on.
Here are five tips that will help you make EFFECTIVE New Year’s Resolutions
1. Focus on health or fitness, instead of weight
Believe it or not, focusing on weight can take the health right OUT of your goal. When people are focused on the number of pounds they see on the scale, that becomes the obsession and the means to getting that number lower can begin to feel less important. For example, someone might skip lunch or restrict fluids in an effort to see the number on the scale drop, neither of which is a healthy habit. I even heard a quack tip recently to “improve your health by sleeping without blankets to lower your body temperature, causing you to work harder and burn more calories in an effort to stay warm, eventually resulting in weight loss.” This is ridiculous! And it has nothing to do with health.
Focusing on weight likely means a diet will be part of the goal, and diets don’t work. The majority of dieters regain the weight they lost. So if health isn’t defined by weight, what is it defined by? Health has to do with the variety and balance in your eating habits and with exercising to improve cardiovascular fitness. Keep your eye on the ball with health and fitness.
2. Err on the small side and be specific
Now that you know better than to make a weight-related goal, is making a New Year’s resolution to “be healthier” the answer? No it isn’t and here’s why: in order for a goal to feel achievable it has to be specific, not general and really vague. A New Year’s Resolution to “make sure there is some type of produce in my cart each time I check out at the grocery store”, “buy the ingredients for two appealing smoothie recipes”, or “walk to the mailbox instead of pulling up in the car after work” are goals much more likely to be reached than “eat more fruit and vegetables”.
Avoid cookie cutter resolutions like “be more positive”, “live more mindfully”, or “find happiness”. They’re not specific enough.