The tendency for people to implement radical lifestyle changes at the beginning of every year has made me a sceptic when it comes to making New Year's Resolutions. So I'll preface this post by admitting that I am not a fan!
I do however, applaud anyone who takes the time to focus their attention towards goal-setting and self-improvement, but in reality this is the easy part. Identifying what you need to do to get you there and implementing systems that will help hold you accountable and keep you motivated along the way, well that's the hard part! Anyone can say "I want to lose weight," but certain questions need to be asked: How much weight? When do you want to lose it by? How will you measure it? What will you do to lose weight? And most importantly, why?
So here are my 5 hacks to help you set resolutions that will take root and lead you to long-term success and lasting change.
1. Be SMART
I know I said picking goals was the easy part and to a certain extent that's true but there are some guidelines you should keep in mind during your goal-setting session. According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the best kind of goal is a SMART goal.
It’s all well and good saying you will be your fittest and healthiest in 2017 but this sort of lofty statement lacks precision. Be specific with what you want to achieve, make sure goals are measurable, attainable, relevant and time-framed. Incorporating all these elements when shaping your goals is key to ensuring your success. Instead of saying “I want to lose some weight”, try “I want to lose 6 lbs of fat in 3 months”. If you’re not sure whether your goal is realistic or not or how to measure your body fat, get support & advice from a nutritionist or personal trainer.
2. What's your why?
If you haven't heard of Simon Sinek before then you can thank me for introducing you to him - you're welcome! Stop what you're doing NOW and watch this short, 5 minute video. Just don't forget to come back! Whatever your goal is, you have to be 100% passionate about it. If you're not sure what your underlying motivations are, it's unlikely that you're going to stay the course. Knowing why you're doing something gives you purpose and it also helps ensure that what you're doing is in line with your values. In order to be truly happy & express our full potential we need to live in congruence with our values. So try this "5 Why's" exercise. Start with asking yourself "Why do I want to accomplish this?" With whatever answer comes up, you ask why to that and so on, 5 times. Here's an example:
What do you want to accomplish?
I want to lose fat.
Why do you want to lose fat?
Because I want to fit into a smaller pair of jeans.
Why do you want to fit into smaller jeans?
Because when I'm wearing smaller jeans I think I'll look better.
Why do you want to look better?
Because when I look good, I feel good about myself.
Why do you want to feel good about yourself?
Because when I feel good about myself I'm more confident & assertive.
Why do you want to be more confident and assertive?
Because when I'm confident and assertive, I'm in control and better able to get what I want out of life.
See how this goal is about so much more than losing fat?
Here's that video again.
3. Visualize your goals
Create yourself a dream or vision board or at least write your goals down and have them displayed in a place you'll see often. Visualisation is one of the most powerful mind exercises you can do, athletes have been using it for decades as a means for improving performance. Displaying the things you want, or the way you want to feel in a space where you’ll see it often, essentially ensures that you’re doing short visualisation exercises throughout the day. It helps to reshape your focus and prioritise your day according to the goals you hold most important. Your success depends on a daily commitment to small actions that will move you closer towards your goal.
"It's not the will to win that matters, everyone has that. It's the will to prepare to win that matters." - Paul Bear Bryant
4. Get Support
Whether it’s from a friend, family or a professional, or better yet all of them, the reality is that we are much more likely to succeed when we have a solid social support network keeping us motivated and holding us accountable. Think about it, when you were at school would you have done your homework if you knew your teacher was never going to ask you for it? No of course not! The same principle applies here, share your goals with a friend, have your trainer keep tabs on you, recruit a friend as a designated gym buddy. With this kind of accountability and support you are much more likely to keep working hard at achieving your goals and maintaining healthy habits.
5. Find Inspiration
We've all been there, it's the end of a long work day or week, it's dark & rainy outside, you're functioning off of 5 hours sleep and all you want to do is curl up on your sofa, watch netflix and call it a day. These days will happen, but if you want to keep making progress and develop good habits, having a plan to get you over these hurdles is crucial. Making a list of inspirational sources and keeping it handy for such occasions is a great tool to have in your box. Here's some ideas to get you started:
- Music - Make a playlist that's sure to get you fired up.
- Active wear - get yourself some workout gear that you look & feel good in.
- Technology - whether it's a fitbit, your iphone or an app like My Fitness Pal, there are so many fitness apps and devices out there to help you keep track of your activity and your calories. Most come with a community to help support you but you can also encourage your friends or family to join you in a little friendly competition.
- Others - Find inspiration in other people, whether that's a coach, mentor, family or friends battling through hard times or personalities on instagram. Create your own tribe of awesome people and check in with them daily to help keep you inspired. I find a little pep talk from Arnie always helps to light a fire under me!
Do you have tips that have worked well in helping you achieve your goals and New Year's Resolutions? We'd love to hear from you!