Setting goals for the new year allows you to direct your focus in the direction of areas that are important to you. At the start of the year, motivation is generally at its highest however as February approaches, many New Years resolutions are sadly swept aside. It’s time to set some that will really stick.
Here is some advice on setting some resolutions for the rest of the year:
Step 1: Pick one resolution at a time and be specific.
Once you have decided on the changes you would like to make in the new year, pick one that will have the most immediate impact in your life to focus on first. In the book ‘ The Power of Less ’ by author Leo Babauta, he explains that you will dramatically improve your chances of success by focusing on one behaviour at a time rather than multiple. I’ve tried both ways many times, and in my experience there is 100% failure for forming multiple habits at once, and a 50-80% success if you do just one habit at a time”.
Be as specific as possible with your resolution, for example, if one of your resolutions is to lose weight then specify how much you want to lose and by when. Concentrating on one specific behaviour rather than multiple vague ones will increase your chances of success.
Step 2: Connect with the WHY.
As acclaimed author Simon Sinek describes in his 2011 book ‘ Start with Why ’, “your why provides you with clarity, meaning and direction”. People find it very easy to think of multiple aspects of their lives that they would like to improve however, many fail to make deep connection with why they want to make this change. For a resolution to stick, it has to be aligned with your core values and connect to a much deeper sense of purpose.
By using the ‘5 whys’ technique, you will be able to search deeper into the reasoning behind your desired goals and get a much better understanding of where they’re coming from. To use the ‘5 whys’ technique, simply write down your chosen behaviour and ask yourself why you would like to add this to your lifestyle.
Once you know why you would like to add the behaviour, ask yourself why is that reason important to you. Repeat this process five times until you find the root cause of your desire to change. Having this deep understanding will identify your true motivation and this can be crucial to keep you on track if things become tough down the line.
Step 3: Map out your path to success
Once you know which behaviour you’re going to tackle first and have firmly connected with why, you can now start to map out the process to achieving it. Analyse the new behaviour and write down all the steps it will take to achieve it. Using our example in Step 1 again, we know that if weight loss is our goal then there will be certain daily habits we will need to repeat to get there.
Here are some examples:
> Keep a daily food journal.
> Go for a brisk walk 20mins per day at lunchtime.
> Make sure I have fruit or vegetables with every meal.
> Switch to a calorie free soda.
> Drink 3 Litres of water per day.
Once you have listed these daily behaviours, don’t try to tackle them all at the same time. Remember, pick ONE that you feel will have the most immediate impact and work on that until it sticks. Ensure to celebrate each time you edge closer to your goal.
Step 4: Measure, evaluate and adjust
When starting your journey, it is vitally important to keep track of how you’re progressing. Not only will this help to keep you accountable, but it will allow you to make the necessary adjustments if things aren’t going to plan. There will be times when progress will slow and sometimes even halt. At this point it is not uncommon for people to become frustrated and give up rather than look for a solution to keep progressing.
Being able to keep forward momentum in any way during your journey can be the difference between solidifying your new habit or being back at square one. When you feel your progress has stalled, take a step back and evaluate your progress so far. Motivation will naturally fluctuate and this is perfectly normal, adjusting your targets when motivation is low will keep you progressing. Reconnect with your why and adjust your steps for the next few weeks, when your situation is more favourable you can make bigger commitments.
At present there is so much misleading information currently available via the web, magazines and marketing campaigns. If you don’t have any background knowledge in effective exercise or nutrition, it can be difficult to know what the necessary steps are to head towards your goals. If you’re unsure of the path you need to take, then I can highly recommend hiring an experienced personal trainer who will be able to educate, support and guide you through your journey.