In the late hours of the new year, the promises we make to ourselves are abundant, full of passion and often unreal. They’re usually overly ambitious, hasty or just a product of the infectious excitement of starting afresh. Studies show that almost half of all Americans set New Year’s resolutions and only 10 percent stick to them.
Here’s what you can do differently this year to get what you want.
Set goals, not resolutions
Dave Ramsey said, “A goal without a plan is just a dream.” Instead of resolutions, make annual goals. What differentiates a goal from a resolution is a concrete, accessible plan with logical and achievable steps.
Ali Spencer, an Outpatient Dietitian at LDS Hospital, states, “In most cases, the resolutions are simply not specific enough, not realistic, and aren’t measurable, which makes them almost impossible to keep.”
Define your goals
“Eating healthier” may sound as a great resolution to have, but what does “healthier” even mean? Such decisions are ambiguous. A better option would be to define the specific details that would contribute toward attaining the larger goal. “Maybe you want to increase the number of vegetables you eat daily or reduce the frequency of eating out. It’s much easier to have a specific goal that’s measurable and easy to visualize,” explained Ali.
Let’s keep it real!
Set goals that are reachable and realistic. If your goal isn’t attainable, you are bound to become frustrated.
Pick goals that you really want to reach and are motivated to achieve. Does your goal make sense for the life you are currently living? Is it relevant? Even though you’ll want to challenge yourself, you also don’t want to set yourself up for failure. Instead of telling yourself that you will exercise every single day, just committing to two classes per week is a much more doable goal.
Focus on the behavior, not the outcome
“I will be a more positive person this year!” There are fundamental issues with a resolution of this nature because it is focusing on what you would want to be rather than what you should do to attain this change. Being positive is a symptom of behavior change, so focus on behaviors that lead to positivity, like being grateful for the little blessings every night before going to bed or indulging more in nature and outdoor activities.
Secondly, this is a long-term resolution. One can’t be sure if it is even attainable within a year or what shortcomings may need to be accounted for. Hence, it is important to start small and take one step at a time.
Be kind to yourself
Each step you take toward your goal is a success. Be kind to yourself and reward your effort and hard work. Plan a reward for when you achieve your goal. This will give you something to focus on. Your resolutions are goals you will work on throughout the year. We’re all human and it is only human to make mistakes or falter. Small steps backwards are not failures and should be expected. Just refocus yourself on getting back on track.
Remember that you’re in the process of accomplishing something that takes time, effort and perseverance. The end result will be worth it.
If your goal for the new year is better behavioral health, treatment at Sovereign Health can help you achieve a lasting recovery from mental disorders and substance abuse. Contact us 24/7 to learn more about our comprehensive programs.
Written by Sana Ahmed, Sovereign Health Group writer