The often-quoted phrase “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” is a perfect frame of mind for New Year’s resolutions. It’s exciting to think of being at the end of a “thousand mile journey”—whether it’s to lose weight, quit smoking, increase exercise, etc.—but we often fail to outline the single steps needed to get us there. Considering that only 8 percent of people who set New Year’s resolutionsactually achieve them1, maybe it is time to start setting realistic resolutions for a healthier year this New Year.
1. Don’t set your goals too high.
Nothing sabotages a goal faster than setting your goal too high. An unrealistic goal—one that is not set based on your available time, finances, and motivation—can quickly lead to discouragement. When designing your resolution, think over what is truly important to you. Once you have this main goal outlined, decide what resources you currently have available to dedicate to achieving your goal. It is important to pick a goal that requires effort, but is also something you are realistically able to achieve.
2. Do pick one goal to work on at a time.
The American Psychological Association recommends picking one unhealthy behavior to change at a time for the best chance at achieving your resolution.2 It takes time to develop unhealthy behaviors, and it will take at least an equal amount of time to change those unhealthy behaviors. Instead of putting yourself in a position to be overwhelmed, identify one behavior to change and put all of your effort into that one goal. Once you achieve your first goal, you can start working on another goal.
3. Don’t forget to make a timeline.
To keep on track, set a time limit to when you plan on accomplishing your goal. Do this by working backwards. Decide when you want to have your goal accomplished and then write out how often you need to engage in healthful lifestyle activities to make it happen. This timeline will also provide mini-goals (single steps) to help you on your journey.
4. Do find your motivation.
Define to yourself what the motivation is behind your goal. Do you want to be able to move more with your kids or reduce your risk factor for developing a certain chronic disease? Whatever your motivation, keep it front of mind—this is what will help you move forward and ultimately find success.
- New Years Resolution Statistics. Statistic Brain website. http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/. Accessed July 26, 2016.
- Making your New Year’s resolution stick. American Psychological Association website. http://www.apa.org/helpcenter/resolution.aspx. Accessed July 26, 2016.