6 Steps to Smarter New Year’s Resolutions
Here’s a smart way to see the results you’ve been chasing with those New Year’s Resolutions. And surprise! It’s easier than you think.
In fact, hard is the reason too many New Year’s goals and resolutions fail. “I’m going to lose 50 pounds.” “I’m getting off all my medications.” I’m going to run a marathon.” These resolutions all sound pretty hard. And rigid. And they all focus on the outcome, instead of the process.
But it’s the process or the system that gets you healthier – or not.
When you put your emphasis on the outcome – like losing 50 pounds – it’s easy to fall for fad diets and quick fixes. But when you put your focus on the process or the systems you have in place, you can get slimmer, healthier, faster, more fit and develop the lasting habits that will keep you slimmer, healthier, faster, more fit.
Make it easy!
Your first goals should be a little bit of work, but also easy enough to be successful. The key to permanently building healthier habits is to build motivation and momentum by experiencing success. Allow yourself to be successful. Allow yourself to be proud of your results and your progress. That’s what will spur you on for more and more success.
We are doomed to fail when our goals are grandiose and when we don’t have a clear plan, a flexible approach and a strong motivator. It isn’t enough to want to exercise more or eat better, we must be able to say why we want to exercise more and eat better, and we must be able to clearly describe what it means to exercise more and eat better. And most importantly, we must believe that we can eat better and exercise more. The way to believe it is to start doing do it. That’s why small goals can help you better succeed than difficult, rigid resolutions.
6 steps to better New Year’s resolutions (or 6 steps to smarter goals)
Over the years, I’ve shared with my clients a very specific way to set goals or to make New Year’s resolutions that actually stick.
1. Choose something you really, really want. If getting more exercise is your aim, ask yourself what it will do for you. Write down why this goal motivates you. Will it give you more energy? Help you sleep better? Improve your brain health, heart health, blood sugar? Be specific. Avoid picking goals that you should want unless you really want them.
If you’re looking for ideas or specific guidance, check out New Year’s resolutions for diabetes and prediabetes and 5 weight loss strategies worthy of New Year’s resolutions.
2. Identify the negatives. If there were no negatives, you would have already met this goal. So consider both the pros and cons to working on and meeting your goals. For example, meeting your exercise goal may mean that you have to wake up earlier than usual or that you’ll have to find childcare. What can you do to lessen the negatives?
3. Write SMART Goals. Follow the 5 principles to SMART goal setting to march down a clear path to success. Download a copy of my SMART goals worksheet.
More and better are much too vague to guide us to success. Do you mean that you want to engage in physical activity for at least 150 minutes weekly and that you want to stop skipping meals? Does eating better mean eating vegetables with meals and snacking on fruits? Write down what you will do, how you will do it and where you will do it. If your goal is specific enough, even a stranger could know what you plan to do.
Can you measure your success? Will you be able to report that you are 50% or 100% successful?
A: Action Oriented
Your goal must identify a behavior because you are 100% in control of your behaviors, but you are not truly in control of your weight, blood sugar levels, cholesterol level or how many hours you sleep.
Is your goal attainable with the resources you have right now?
Identify when you will do this and when you will examine your results.Get a copy of a simple SMART goals worksheet for stickier New Year's resolutions.Click To Tweet
4. List all the steps to success. This step is so tempting to ignore, but please don’t skip it. It’s not enough to decide that you’ll eat fruit in the afternoon instead of munching on chips and candy. You’ve got to buy the fruit and have it with you. When will you buy it? Where will you store it? How will you remember to eat it?
5. Ask for help. For some reason, many people fear that it’s a sign of weakness to ask for help in meeting health goals. But actually there are few things in life that we do without help. Here are a few ways I ask for help.
- My daughter will frost the cake.
- My husband cuts the brownies or cookies and puts them away.
- No one leaves chocolate on the counter.
- My husband unloads the dishwasher in the morning, so I have time for my jog.
- My husband helps me prepare my lunch before starting the workday.
- My doctor helps me understand my health tests.
6. View the shades of gray. Not being 100% successful doesn’t mean than you are 0% successful. Better health is not so black and white. I suggest treating your goals as mini experiments. Look at them with a curious mind. What did you learn? What went well, and what did you like? What didn’t go so well? How can you tweak your goal for greater success this week?
If your success is coming too slowly, maybe you need a morning ritual. I know that it helps me!
Cheers to a beautiful, happy and healthy year!
Don’t forget to download my SMART goals worksheet.
Jill Weisenberger, MS, RDN, CDE, CHWC, FAND, is a Nutrition, Culinary & Diabetes Expert, Wellcoach®-certified health and wellness coach, Freelance Writer, Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's also the author of four books, including a best-seller. She's a nationally-recognized media expert in high demand for print and online interviews, as well as corporate and one-on-one nutritional counseling. Jill's philosophy is that nutrition science should be understandable, realistic and oh so delicious.
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Like most of my patients and clients, I lead a busy life. You probably do too. Fortunately, you don’t need weeks, days or even hours to start living better and healthier. This blog offers timesaving strategies and bite-sized nutrition and health information. Come by often for tips and inspiration to healthy living – no matter how busy you are. I am a registered dietitian nutritionist offering credible, practical nutrition advice to keep busy people healthy. Yes indeed, we can be both busy and healthy.