Resolve to Skip the New Year’s Resolution
Did you know that only 8% of Americans who make New Year’s resolutions achieve them? Typically, the reason they fail is the lack of a plan to ensure success. Most resolutions are vague like “eat less”, “lose weight” or “exercise more”. These are admirable goals, but they don’t offer a tactical strategy for execution or, more importantly, a plan for failure. In order to establish a successful goal, you have to think through how you will accomplish your goal. Instead of a New Year’s resolution, how about a SMART goal for 2016?
Specific – Lose weight is not a specific goal. Think in terms of a more exact plan like “lose 10 pounds”. Be specific about how you are going to accomplish the goal. For example, eating more vegetables, not snacking after dinner, cutting out soft drinks, etc. Fine tune your plan to accommodate what you know about your habits.
Measurable – By specifying a measurable value, you are make it easy to determine success. “Lose 10 pounds” can be readily verified by the scale. Any goal you are seeking to achieve should have a reliable measure by which to gauge success.
Achievable – Make sure the timeframe is reasonable for achieving your goal. You aren’t likely to lose 10 pounds in 2 weeks, but at a rate of 1.5 to 2 pounds per week, you could lose 10 pounds in 5-7 weeks. Set up action items to help you achieve your goal. For example, if snacking when you are bored is a barrier, make a plan to avoid boredom and have a strategy in place in case you find yourself getting bored. You could plan a healthy snack to be in a convenient place when that happens. If you plan for the pitfalls you know exist for you, you are much more likely to avoid it when it occurs.
Realistic – If you know that there’s a big event coming up that will sabotage your game plan, make accommodations for that – Super Bowl Sunday comes to mind immediately. You may even want to include a “cheat day”, to allow yourself an indulgence. Remember the 80/20 rule: if you can eat well 80% of the time, the 20% will not adversely impact your progress.
Time-based – Don’t tie your goal to a specific date, but don’t wait a year to start again when you fail; which you will…plan on it. If you miss your first deadline, re-think the plan based on what you learned. For example, if your goal is to lose 10 pounds by the spring, and you didn’t reach your goal, evaluate where you are now. Perhaps you lost less than the projected 1.5 pounds per week. Recalibrate your weight loss goal and set a new one.
I’ve said it before – the road to achieving a goal is not a straight line to the finish. It is a bumpy, twisted, winding road filled with barriers to success. Steve Salerno, author of Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, was quoted in a recent Time magazine article, saying, “Do we all not know people who make the same resolutions year after year? Or maybe we are that person. My concern is that the resolution takes the place of the action, as is also true with so many millions of people who sign up for an endless succession of self-help programs: They think some magic words, some avowed promise, will magically transform their lives, when we all know that the real transformational work is tough, grueling, and usually involves sacrifice and unpleasant choices.”
Have a happy, healthy New Year!