We just started the new year and already people’s resolutions are starting to fade away like the discarded Christmas trees all around Charleston waiting for trash pick-up. Every year, people vow to change their ways and make resolutions that often die on the vine shortly after that shimmery ball falls and heralds in the new year. Indeed, for many of us – even with the best intentions to achieve our goals – we fall back into our old patterns and ultimately give up because our resolutions are not S.M.A.R.T.
To help you achieve your resolutions this year, here is the ‘cheater’s’ guide to achieving your new year’s goals.
Your resolutions must be specific. Tailor your goals with specific benchmarks and milestones to accomplish them.
For example, many people say, “I want to get in shape,” but they don’t specify by how much or what that means to them. A more successful resolution would include details such as, “I want to be able to run a mile under eight minutes without stopping, complete 50 push-ups and hold a plank for three minutes.”
If you want to save money, for example, write out how much you want to save and where you plan to cut in order to achieve that goal. “I want to save an extra $20 a month so that I have $240 extra at the end of the year for a special family treat. I will do this by eliminating one Starbucks coffee purchase a week.”
In my planner, for example, I write down exactly when I will workout because then I have made a commitment to myself and blocked that time off from any of the other million things that could eat up my time and deter me from my goals.
A meme went around last year that said, “Think of your workouts as important meetings you’ve scheduled with yourself. Bosses don’t cancel.” Whether it’s getting in shape, saving money or any other resolution, think like a boss mom, ladies, and hold yourself to specific goals.
We are creatures with short-term memories and not always good at measuring our own progress towards a goal. We need to add a measurement to our goal or we can lose sight of our progress or regression.
If weight loss is our goal, we can download any of the free apps out there that track our calorie intake and activity output or purchase a fitness tracker, so that we see in a measurable way how many more calories we would need to burn a day to achieve weight loss given our current calorie consumption.
Side note: I know that weight loss is the number one resolution out there, but instead of focusing on a number on a scale, I would encourage people to think more about inches lost and strength gained. The scale can be an evil obsession and is not the only – or even the most reliable – barometer of health.
Don’t set yourself up for failure. If you never have worked out a day in your life, please carefully assess whether a goal to run an Iron Man, for example, is an achievable goal this year. You can always reassess your goals and add new ones throughout the year, but if you set your initial goal too high, it is easy to become demoralized and give up.
A more achievable goal might be, “I need to work out. I am going to run for five minutes, walk for five minutes each day during the month of January. Each month, I plan to increase my walk/run time by ten minutes, so that I can run a 5K by June.”
Maybe you want to drink more water. You should! Water is necessary and good for us in every way, and key if we are looking to lose weight, but it is rather unrealistic for us to go from not drinking any water to drinking eight glasses a day.
Healthy habits take some time to establish in order to be sustainable, so be realistic in your expectation. Replace one of your usual drinks with a glass of water every week until by the end of eight weeks, you have comfortably accomplished your goal of eight glasses a day. We cannot expect change overnight.
You know when you ask your husband to do something, such as clean the garage, and he says, “Sure,” but a month later, it still looks like a hot mess? You didn’t give him a timely goal. All of us need to be held accountable by time.
Next time say to your husband, “By the end of this weekend, please have spent three hours working on the garage so that I can pull my car in on Sunday night.” With our own resolutions, add in a time element so that we can’t put off our goals. “By March, I will be able to complete fifty bicep curls using 10lb weights.”
Be S.M.A.R.T. in order to accomplish your goals, but also give yourself grace to experience setbacks. We are not infallible and we need to be kind to ourselves as we continue to evolve towards the people we strive to be.
Disclaimer: Before undertaking any weight loss program, please consult a doctor. And please don’t obsess about that number on the scale. It doesn’t define us. We are so much more than a number.