Ditch the Resolution, Set SMART goals
Why You Make Resolutions
About half of Americans set New Year’s Resolutions. However, only about 8% of people are successful at achieving their resolutions. A whopping 38% of New Year’s Resolutions are related to weight, exercise, and/or eating healthier. Many people find the New Year as the perfect time to kick old habits. But why are so few successful?
Why You Fail
Many resolutions are simply unrealistic in nature. If you’re a self-proclaimed foodie who loves chocolate and your New Year’s Resolution is to lose 20 pounds and give up chocolate cake…you may have “false hope syndrome”. False hope syndrome, coined by psychologists Polivy and Herman, is a cycle of failure and renewed effort, characterized by the unrealistic expectation that major changes will come easier and quicker than is truly realistic. Basically, if you have tried and failed at losing weight or giving up chocolate cake before, it’s probably not because you didn’t have enough willpower. Your goals were probably just unrealistic [for you] or not specific enough. You needed a reasonable plan.
Lack of social support is often another major deterrent for making significant lifestyle changes. If your goal is to eat healthier but your office kitchen is constantly full of doughnuts, you are going to have a much harder time eating healthy than someone who doesn’t have to fight the doughnut temptation every day. Having the support of your family and friends is essential when changing your goals and subsequently changing your environment and your habits.
What to do instead
This year, instead of setting a few New Year’s Resolutions, stick to SMART goals. Focus on one goal rather than several. Keep in mind that goals, like losing weight, are year-long goals. SMART goals are more of a lifestyle change rather than something you power through for a couple of weeks until you can no longer maintain it. Let’s take a look at goal setting using the SMART method instead of setting a too ambitious (I want to climb Mt. Everest but never climbed before) outcome driven and not process driven (losing 50lbs), vague (I want to be healthier), New Year’s “resolution” of overhauling your body and your life.
Focusing on one SMART goal at a time will allow you to concentrate your efforts on the goal that is most important to you. Keep in mind that goals, such as losing weight, are year-long objectives that will entail more of a lifestyle change rather than a radical, temporary adjustment. Using the SMART method of goal setting will become more intuitive with practice. Lastly, try not to be too hard on yourself if you fall off track. Everyone has setbacks from time to time, but it’s important that you keep moving toward your goal. Change doesn’t happen overnight, but consistent progress facilitates long term results.