Here we are again, at the end of one year, hopeful and ready to greet a new one. It is no secret that this year was a hard one for a lot of people. More than three times as many people reported feeling depressed during the pandemic, when compared to prior to the start of it. Along with that, we saw an increase in the amount of binge drinking and other substance abuse during the year. Unsurprisingly, the obesity rate has also risen significantly during this very tough year. It was a very tough year for mental and physical and even spiritual health, and even though the new year is about to start, we’re not out of the woods yet.
Now that the new year is about to begin, have you already set a resolution for yourself? How can you ensure that this new year resolution will work? Are you ready to make the commitment to yourself? Here are some ideas on how to establish good habits and get the most out of the new you that you will make, one day at a time this new year.
Don’t Be Vague with Your Goals
The first thing that you should understand about why new year resolutions fail, is that, often times, the resolutions are not specific enough. How can you possibly measure success if your goal doesn’t have any hard metrics associated with it? Which goal sounds more achievable?
- I will get skinny this new year.
- I will lose 15 pounds by June.
Of course, the answer is number 2. What does it really mean to get skinny, anyway? What are you measuring your results against? Your high school body? Pictures of how you remember yourself in your prime? Even if you lose an incredible amount of weight during the year, there’s a good chance you’ll still feel like you didn’t achieve what you wanted to achieve because you didn’t set a clear, measurable goal to guide you.
Don’t Expect Change Too Quickly
In this day and age, we’re used to getting everything we want on demand. Good habits don’t work like that. In fact, new, desirable habits don’t often come quickly at all. A new habit can take anywhere from 18 to 254 days to form, and on average it take 66 days to make that new habit automatic. This is bad news for people who expect lasting results to come quickly for their new year resolutions.
Why do you think most gyms expect you to sign up for a year-long commitment? Is it because they have your best interests in mind? Maybe, but more likely, they know that 80% of the members who join the gym after the new year drop off by mid-February. Why is that? Because the habits haven’t been formed properly, and the speed of the results come too slowly for some people who are conditioned to getting what they want fast.
Don’t Set the Bar Too High
So you set a measurable goal for your new year resolution, and you’re off to a good start. You even manage to push past the point when others start dropping off from theirs. Pretty soon, your new habits you are forming will be automatic. But then, the realization hits you: I made the goal too hard to achieve. Don’t let this happen to you.
Understand before setting your goals that the act of forming good habits is more important than meeting your lofty goals when it comes to new year resolutions, so why set them that high? Set yourself up for success, not failure.
Use the SMART Method
When setting your goals for the new year, be SMART about it.
That is, to make sure your goals are clear and reachable, each one should be:
- Specific (simple, sensible, significant).
- Measurable (meaningful, motivating).
- Achievable (agreed, attainable).
- Relevant (reasonable, realistic and resourced, results-based).
- Time bound (time-based, time limited, time/cost limited, timely, time-sensitive).
If you follow this method, then you are more likely to succeed.
Make Varied Goals to Target Holistic Improvement
Lastly, allow me to make one more suggestion about your resolution this new year. Try to set a series of goals for yourself that will help improve your life in a holistic way. Getting back into good physical shape will most likely positively affect your mental health, but a good body isn’t everything. Can you rise to the challenge of setting these goals for yourself?
- Physical Improvement. Whether it’s about losing weight, gaining muscle, training for a race, or just simply committing to going for a walk every day, set a measurable, achievable goal for yourself, and understand that real physical change takes time.
- Mental Improvement. There are so many things that factor into your mental health. Outside forces will try their best to ruin your emotional well-being. This year, set a goal for yourself to become more aware of what control you do have over your own mental health. Whether it’s seeing a psychologist, meditating, or simply committing to good habits like waiting ten seconds before responding to bad news, you should strive to add something positive for your mental maintenance.
- Limit or Remove Vices. I don’t know what your vices are, but I know you do. Vices really are just things in our life that we know aren’t good for us, but that we do anyway. That can be a lot of things. Everyone needs a bit of relief from the world from time to time, but letting that relief consume us makes it a vice. Maybe you want to cut something out completely. Maybe you just want to do something less. Measure what you ultimately want, and set your goal around that.
- At Least One Fun Goal. Lastly, give yourself something fun to strive to achieve. Something that will make you a more interesting or better person in your own mind. Whether it’s something like writing a new draft of your book, or trying to remove the word “hate” from your lexicon, (okay, those are my goals) set yourself some fun goals that you can do to try and form good habits to make you a better version of you.