✦ Tips on 2022 New Year Resolutions and Goal Settings
New Year resolutions. Millions are made all around the world each year. After the excesses of the festive period, many of us declare with blind faith that the new year will mean a new approach in lifestyle, “a new me!” Whether that is a pledge to adopt a healthier approach to eating (in order to lose weight or otherwise), to cut down drinking, exercise more, stop smoking, manage financial affairs better, improve one’s love life, the list goes on and, ultimately of course, is determined by personal goals and aspirations.
An estimated 188.9 million adult Americans (74.02% of the population) said they were determined to learn something new, make a lifestyle change or set a personal goal in an effort to better themselves in 2021, a 15.17% increase from the previous year.
The bad news, unfortunately, is statistically a huge percentage of all resolutions intended to kick in on January 1 of the new year fail. According to Forbes, virtually every study tells us that around 80% of New Year’s resolutions don’t make it past the end of January. That’s a pretty damning statistic, right? But fear not as there are ways you can give yourself the best chance of succeeding at whatever resolution you set yourself.
Whatever the goal is, adopting the renowned SMART approach is advised. An acronym coined in the journal Management Review in 1981, it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. It may work for management, but it can also work in setting your resolutions, too.
As John Clarke, Business and Tax Accountant in Port Macquarie says, "It’s often a standing joke how ineffective many New Year’s Resolutions are. In the past mine have included losing weight, exercising, and giving up smoking. The problem with these kinds of resolutions is they are general. Any resolution needs to be more specific e.g. I will only eat take out twice a week; I will walk for half an hour four times a week. These goals are measurable."
Do the right thing
First and foremost it is advised that you pick the right resolution and for the right reasons. Be honest with yourself. It has to be realistic and doable otherwise you are setting yourself up for an almighty fail. It also has to be as precise as possible as vague goals are rarely achieved. Aiming to lose a significant amount of weight in a certain time, for example, is a tough ask, particularly if one is not habitually an exercise or health food enthusiast. This is regularly how resolutions fail as tangible progress is not seen by the devotee, disappointment and despondancy naturally set in and the goal is scrapped.
Be realistic and fair to yourself. Set goals but make them attainable without having to suffer a life of misery as, once again, this will lead to resentment and ultimately a decision to scrap the campaign. Using the weight loss example, maybe set piecemeal goals where a certain amount is targeted each week or each month. Sure, have the six-month or 12-month target but don’t focus on that figure too much as it can often seem unattainable, particularly at the outset. Likewise, if you want to exercise more, establish how much time you can dedicate, how many days a week and for how long. By assigning a measurement, you are specifying what goal success looks like. Small, measured steps can equate to definite progress and, once you witness this succeeding, confidence builds as does your motivation to stick at it and see it through.
Another example of this approach can be applied to those that are trying to cut back on time spent on their smart phones, tablets or computers. We all know we have become hostage to screentime, something that can become dangerously addictive, particularly in the younger generation. It may sound slightly absurd but there are countless numbers of people that admit this addiction and yearn to cut back significantly. Again, setting measurable, realistic and attainable goals is the way to succeed. Activate the feature that tracks your screen time per day, per week, etc and use this as a barometer. It sounds ridiculously simple but it is the way to go.
It’s all about me
Also, truly consider the goal you are striving to attain. Why exactly are you doing it? Is it a goal based on the perceptions or ideals of someone else advising you to change? Is it societal pressure, the longing to fit in with what is deemed attractive or the latest trend as defined by numerous media outlets?
Ultimately YOU’VE got to want it. It has to be about you as you are the one identifying and effecting the change. If you are doing it to please or displease others, this can often lead to resentment, anger and subsequently failure. Like anything in life, make it genuine, mean it, want it and you have a far greater chance of succeeding.
“If you do it out of the sense of self-hate or remorse or a strong passion in that moment, it doesn’t usually last long,” said Dr. Michael Bennett, a psychiatrist and co-author of two self-help books. “But if you build up a process where you’re thinking harder about what’s good for you, you’re changing the structure of your life, you’re bringing people into your life who will reinforce that resolution, then I think you have a fighting chance.”
Fail to plan, plan to fail
Planning is, of course key. Understanding what the goal is, why you want to achieve it and how you will achieve it. But ensuring that it does not overshadow other parts of your life is important too – there are countless examples of where a desire for change, be it a New Year’s resolution or otherwise, has become somewhat of an obsession which can have a hugely detrimental effect on other aspects of ours lives, be it our career, or relationships with friends, family and loved ones.
Understand how much time you can and should allocate to building the new you. Give yourself enough time to focus properly on the task but not at the behest or other things. Remember, habits take a long time to build and it is something you are aspiring to effect for good as a positive change so plan it appropriately in respect to timeframe management. Change can and will appear but it is not an overnight thing so be realistic.
Likewise, plan for the odd wobble. Whatever the goal is, you can be certain there will be a myriad of roadblocks along the way. The day the smoker aspiring to quit has an unbearable desire for a drag of a cigarette, when the person dead-set on losing weight dreams about a cream cake or the individual striving to exercise more just wants to stay on the couch and watch TV.
Again, be realistic and fair to yourself. There is no escaping the fact that these undermining times when your resolution is tested will happen. Plan for them and you will stand a far better chance of bypassing whatever hurdle is thrown your way. For example, the smoker may have premeditated that when the urge arises he or she reacts by having a glass of water perhaps, stepping outside and taking a series of deep breathes, maybe dropping to the floor and banging out a series of push-ups!
Will it and it will come
Willpower will be required for sure but, if you think about it, you already knew that. That’s why it is a New Year resolution, right? It’s not meant to be easy and that’s why the failure rate is so high. You’re identifying something you want to change and, if you’re serious about it, will do. But there will be tough moments.
However, that being said, don’t be too hard on yourself if you find you’re a little behind on schedule with goals such as weight loss, exercising more, screening less, saving money, etc. Focus on the progress you’ve made and the positives attained rather than the odd wobble. Beating yourself up only has the reverse effect.
“You’re up against a part of yourself that’s never going to change. It’s always going to push at you in certain directions that are unhealthy. You’re going to have to really create something step by step in order to manage it,” Dr. Bennett said.
There are changes where this approach isn’t necessarily correct, however. Effecting a change such as quitting smoking, for example, will need a more robust approach to willpower as the slightest of blips will literally push the individual back to square one. There isn’t really any wriggle room with this one so steadfast application is required. One successful approach was developed by Allen Carr whose “Easy Way to Quit Smoking” methodology is regarded as a revelation, helping millions quit for good. Acknowledging how challenging an issue nicotine addition is, he wholeheartedly disapproved of the willpower method and absolutely advocated the straight forward approach of just stopping. Literally like that. In effect, it is a lesson in mental realignment and conditioning, of literally saying “I no longer do that” and simply adopting it. His approach and methods are genuinely fascinating in how to tackle and abolish bad habits and his book is well worth a read even for those who are not necessarily smokers.
Talk to others, to friends, family, work colleagues and make them aware of your task at hand and how determined you are to achieve it. Letting them know how important it is to you should result in a support network that will not only tolerate potential mood swings and agitated moments but hopefully ensure you have the motivational backing when struggles kick in.
Further afield there are specific support groups and networks that can help to be associated with that provide a notion of community. Alcoholics Anonymous (and other Anonymous groups) is one good example. Some people believe publicly stating their resolutions on social media can be a big advantage as they feel being accountable in the public domain means they are therefore more likely to stick it out. However, we all know the pit falls of social media so this mightn’t be an appropriate approach for everyone.
Ultimately, it comes down to the individual and how serious they are about effecting whatever the change is. As previously alluded to, you need to be honest, realistic and determined. But, as the old adage goes, if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And New Year resolutions are no different. It is, after all, a totally arbitrary date and we know the data pointing to success rates isn’t great so don’t pressure yourself too much.
However, try your best, maybe adopt some of the approaches outlined here and you may well surprise yourself as you embark on a path to a New You in the New Year!
Tell us how you go with your New Year's Resolution by emailing us.
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