It’s Time to Stop Making Resolutions and Start Making Revolutions!
As we welcome a new year, many of us take the time to make reflections and set ambitious goals. However, too often these well-intentioned resolutions quickly fall by the wayside, are short-lived, or never come to fruition. What makes New Year’s resolutions so difficult to achieve? And what strategies can you use in order to increase your chances of success in 2023?
The Problem with New Year’s Resolutions
A frequent issue with most resolutions is that they are often too vague, broad, or ambiguous. Without establishing a clear-cut goal, it can be difficult to determine what actions you need to take to achieve your desired outcome. Furthermore, a lack of specificity can also make it difficult to measure our progress or observe any rewards from our efforts, making it easier for us to lose our motivation and abandon our resolutions altogether.
Another problem with resolutions is that they are often too ambitious. Attempting to make changes overnight can be overwhelming and often results in feelings of defeat or discouragement when progress seems meager, slow, or non-existent. This approach makes it difficult for one to stay committed to their resolutions.
Last but not least, resolutions often fail due to a lack of support. We tend to make most of our resolutions in solitude and attempt to tackle them by ourselves—without help from friends, family members, coaches, or someone we can trust. Consequently, it becomes increasingly difficult to stay on track. Thus, constructing meaningful relationships and finding ways to hold oneself accountable are essential components of successful New Year’s resolutions.
Don’t Make Resolutions—Create Habits
Establishing a clear, specific objective is a fundamental factor for setting attainable goals. However, our experts recommend taking it a step further—make habits, not resolutions. Creating habits is often considered better than making resolutions for several reasons, such as:
Habits are automatic: Habits are performed without conscious thought, making them easier to maintain and less prone to breaking down due to stress or other life events.
Habits are gradual: Creating habits involves gradually incorporating new behaviors into your life, which is less overwhelming than trying to make a complete change overnight.
Habits create lasting change: Resolutions are often made as a one-time commitment to change, without a clear plan for how the change will be implemented or maintained over time. On the contrary, habits are established over time and become part of your daily routine, making the change more permanent than a one-time resolution.
Habits build upon each other: Establishing one habit often leads to the creation of others, as new behaviors become integrated into your daily routine.
Habits are flexible: Habits can be adjusted as needed, making it easier to adapt to changes in life circumstances or to incorporate new goals.
How to Successfully Build and Keep Track of New Habits
Creating habits requires a combination of repetition and consistency, along with motivation and a clear understanding of why the habit is important. Here are some steps to help you create a new habit:
- Identify your desired habit: Start by clearly defining what the desired habit is and why it is important to you.
- Make it achievable: Start with small, achievable actions or behaviors that can be repeated on a daily basis. As the habit becomes more ingrained, you can gradually increase the size or frequency of your behaviors.
- Track your progress: Keep track of when the desired behavior is performed, using a journal, calendar, or habit-tracking app. This can help you identify patterns and make adjustments as needed.
- Create a trigger: Link your new habit to an existing routine, such as performing it right after brushing your teeth or going for a run. This will help you establish the desired behavior as part of your larger overall routine.
- Reward yourself: Reinforce the desired behavior by rewarding yourself each time it is performed. This can be as simple as a pat on the back or a small treat. Simple, small rewards can help you build motivation and positive associations with the new habit.
- Be persistent: Habits can take time to form, so it is important to remain persistent and continue practicing your desired behavior, even if progress seems slow.
- Celebrate successes: Celebrate the small successes along the way, and use them as motivation to continue building your new habit.
How to Develop Successful Habits: S.M.A.R.T. Goals
Increase your chances of successfully building new habits with SMART goals. Goal setting is made more effective with the SMART acronym, a widely-used framework that has been scientifically proven to help you efficiently set and achieve specific objectives. The letters in SMART stand for:
- Specific: The goal must be clear and well-defined, with a clear understanding of what is to be achieved.
- Measurable: The goal must be quantifiable, so that progress can be tracked and success can be determined.
- Achievable: The goal must be realistic and attainable given the available resources and time constraints.
- Relevant: The goal must align with the larger picture, connecting with personal or organizational values and goals.
- Time-bound: The goal must have a deadline or target date, creating a sense of urgency and a clear timeline for achievement.
Using the SMART framework helps you ensure that your goals are well-defined and attainable, increasing your motivation and chances of success. Think about what goals you want to achieve this year, then take those goals and create habits around them using the method(s) above.
Habit tracking helps turn your goals into automatic, instinctive routines over time. Gradually incorporating new behaviors into your daily routine will create lasting change that is more resilient, impactful, and powerful, even in the midst of facing challenges life unexpectedly throws at you.
Most resolutions fail when they are too vague, overwhelming, unrealistically ambitious, or lack the support needed to be successful. By using habit tracking with SMART goals, you can increase your chances of success and create lasting change in the upcoming year. Start tracking your habits today—you’ll be amazed when you reflect and see the difference it made in your life.
Healthy Habits for the New Year
When you’re looking for more motivation to get fit or need professional assistance with SMART nutrition goals, Imperium Health Center Littleton is ready to provide you with the invaluable resources and support you need to make positive changes in your life.