Updated: Feb 3, 2020
If you’re like the majority of Canadians, it’s likely that you’ve made a New Year’s resolution to eat healthier, work out more, lose weight, or spend more time on personal well-being in general—the most popular resolutions. While you might have good intentions with these resolutions, the trouble is that only about 80% of people stick to a resolution for more than six weeks. So, the question begs to be asked: how can we be more successful at doing what we set out to do?
Use the SMART acronym.
I might be reminding you of your fifth grade teacher right now, but using the SMART acronym when it comes to goal-setting is actually insanely helpful. It stands for: specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.
Specific: get super detailed about what you’re doing, when, how, with whom, etc. For example, “I’m going to lift weights on Monday’s and Thursday’s after work at the Goodlife near my house for one hour by myself.” Write it down, put it in your calendar, and make it visible.
Timely: when are you going to reach this goal? Make a deadline for yourself.
Relevant: it’s important to ask yourself why you want to reach this goal and if this is actually important to you. For example, it’s easy to say you want to lose weight like everyone else. But do you actually have a problem with your weight? Are you actually willing to put in the work? Be sure to have an honest conversation with yourself about this.
Attainable: if you’re someone who hasn’t exercised much, it’s probably not going to be realistic to say you’re suddenly going to work out five days a week.
Measurable: how are you going to keep track of what you’re going to do? What will you specifically be measuring? For example, if you want to drink more water, how many cups? How will you keep track of how many cups you’ve drank in a day?
2. Forget the “should’s” (and be curious why they’re there in the first place).
As soon as you say you “should” do something, it leaves room for the possibility that you’re going to decide not to do it. Instead, say “I’m going to work out more.” And if you find yourself tempted to say “should” when it comes to your goal, why might that be? Is it that the goal isn’t actually relevant to you? It’s too unrealistic?
3. Stop going solo.
It’s a lot more motivating to stick to your goals when you have someone or something else holding you accountable. You could use a gym buddy, sign up with a trainer or nutritionist (like me!), or use stickk.com, which makes you donate to a charity or cause you absolutely loathe if you don’t complete your goal. (I seriously can’t think of something more motivating!)
4. Don’t go too easy on yourself.
Look, there are definitely going to be days where you don’t want to do that thing you said you were going to do. You won’t feel like working out, you will want to say “screw the diet,” or you will want to stay up until 2am watching Netflix rather than going to bed at 11pm like you said. While I’m all for self-care and flexibility, doing what you said you were going to do can be really, really great for your self-esteem. When you accomplish something, it reminds you of how capable and strong you are. Remind yourself from the start that there are certainly going to be days when you are NOT going to want to fill out your new year’s resolution, but tell yourself, “No! You said you were going to do this and you are going to do it. You got this!”
5. Do not take the “all or nothing” approach.
Okay so I know I just said you shouldn’t go too easy on yourself, but you’re also human and you might slip up a couple times. If you do, don’t just write yourself off. You are not defined by that one slip-up; you are defined by your ability to get back on that saddle and continue as if nothing happened. You can do it!
6. Reward yourself.
Positive (and negative) reinforcement can be very effective tools when it comes to changing behaviour. While it’s easy to say, “the weight loss itself will be my reward,” get more specific than that. Buy that special makeup palette you’ve had your eye on or treat yourself to a wondrous spa day. And book it on a specific date. Remember, your goals have to have a deadline!
For more information on how to stick to your resolutions, check out this awesome infographic!
You Tell Me!
What helps you stick to your New Year's resolutions? Let me know in the comments below!