Ditch the 2017 Resolution
People don’t make resolutions and then spring into lasting action. Behavior change researcher James Prochaska and others (link is external) have written about how people actually change — in stages. The actual behavior change, like starting to exercise, or going on a diet, is not the first stage of change, but rather comes after contemplating a change and then preparing to make the change.
Research says that almost all of us who make resolutions will fail. One reason we fail is our resolutions are too vague. Typically we say things like I’m going to “lose weight” or “drink more water”. The key to successful goal setting is using SMART goals – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-sensitive. If your goals don’t include these components, you will likely not accomplish them.
Too often, resolutions are about what we think we should do – stop smoking, exercise more. These all sound good on the surface, but shouldn’t you really make a plan for what you want to be doing? If the answer is yes, the secret to success is tying your desire with a goal that helps you to achieve it. For example, if you want to be able to play with your kids, but you aren’t fit enough, perhaps the goal should be around the motivational end – playing with your kids. If you don’t have a bikini body at the end of the process, that’s okay! You have what you truly want, which is the ability to enjoy your life with your children.
Setting goals can be fraught with disappointment because we focus on wanting more in our life than we have right now. The very nature of goals make you look forward to what’s next, never at what you’ve got right now. I’ve written a lot about the importance of living in the moment. That’s important for appreciating what you have now rather than feeling “less-than” because there’s something you don’t have now. Reaching a goal does not always lead to happiness. So, if your mission is to be happier, isn’t it better to focus on what you can do to accomplish that?
So what should do if you don’t set a goal for 2017? How about taking stock of the year’s accomplishments? You can set up an accomplishment jar and write your accomplishments on Post-It notes. At the end of the year, read the accomplishments that are in your jar. You’ll feel great about reviewing the successes of the year. If you’re not into the jar, consider journaling about your successes through the year. At the end of the year, take time to read the journal and re-visit your accomplishments.
Many of us spend our lives searching for the perfect moment. Sometimes these moments come on ordinary days. Taking stock of your the successes of the year is a great way to appreciate our most successful moments on the most ordinary of days.
Happy 2017 to all.