The problem with New Year's Resolutions (and what to do instead)
The end of the year is rapidly approaching and I’m seeing more and more talk of resolutions for 2018. Watch your social media; the declarations of life improvement are starting to flood our feeds.
“This is the year,” they’ll say, “starting January 1st I’ll…”
Exercise, socialize, hire a trainer, start this diet, lose that weight, get that job, buy that thing, meditate more, travel, quit smoking, be healthier, get famous, get a promotion, sleep more, sleep less, watch less TV, read more, and the list goes on.
We love the idea of a reset button, and the start of the new year brings just that. We get a chance to have a clean slate, to go on a success streak, to finally say goodbye to our vices and flaws. We get to reinvent ourselves, burst from the cocoon that was the slumps of December and emerge as a January butterfly.
And we fail.
Why? We are setting ourselves up for failure, and failing to succeed at our New Year’s Resolutions (NYR, from now on) hurts that much more than a regular goal that was not met. Resolutions are a heck of a lot of pressure to put on ourselves, and by setting such lofty goals without a plan of action we aren’t really giving ourselves much of a shot. And often once a NYR is set, the target behaviour actually worsens throughout December.
I’m going to quit smoking! (so I’ll smoke 2 packs/day for the rest of December)
I’m starting XXX diet! (so I’ll binge on cheese and cookies at every chance I get until then)
I’m going to cancel my Netflix subscription! (so don’t expect me to emerge from my cave until January)
There’s got to be a better way to set goals that actually set us up for a good shot at being successful. Enter SMART goals.
SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely.
They break big goals into manageable pieces, and allow us to celebrate our successes along the way. I have a worksheet that my clients and I go through that breaks goals into 5 year, 1 year, 6 month, and 2 week chunks. I am attempting to figure out how to attach a PDF worksheet to a post (great nutritionist, horrible techy), but for now let’s work through one of my own goals.
NYR: be a better blogger
First I have to define what this means to me. Let’s say “better” means posts consistently and engages with my audience.
Be Specific: I will publish one blog post once every two weeks, on Wednesdays, from January 2018- June 2018, then re-evaluate.
Be Measurable: Did I post every two weeks? It’s a simple yes or no.
Be Attainable: Do I see myself actually being able to post every two weeks? Yes, it is possible. I’d prefer to post every week, but I know that isn’t realistic for me at this time.
Be Realistic: See above. I’m sure this goal is attainable for me, and it’s realistic in that I’m not asking something outrageous of myself.
Be Timely: I will see success every two weeks to keep me on track, and will celebrate success at each two week mark, with a big hurray-for-me on June 18th.
It’s wise to have a plan of action in case things come up or you sway off track. Try coming up with reasons why your original plan may not work, and then brainstorm possible solutions. For me, one of my obstacles is that I know that I may run out of ideas when trying to think on the fly for blog posts, and if I don’t have an idea that’s “good enough” I’ll just call it quits for the day. To solve this problem, I spent one day brainstorming enough post ideas to get me through to June. No excuses.
How do you feel about NYR? Do you feel pressured, motivated, or both? I’d love to hear some of your goals in the comment section below, and I challenge you to make them as SMART as possible! As always, feel free to email me if you need guidance.