Resolve to set goals this year
It’s that time of year again; the gym is packed, there’s a line for the treadmill, and every swim lane is taken. But, come February, the crowds will have lessened and, by March, you’ll be able to hear a pin drop in the weight room as the lure of warm weather and happy hours trumps the stuffy fitness center and protein shakes.
If you are one of the 45 percent of Americans who set New Year’s Resolutions, you should know that, on average, only eight percent of people who make resolutions successfully achieve them. But don’t let that statistic discourage you; a few simple changes can put you on the path to success.
As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that’s exactly what a resolution is: a good intention. A resolution is a course of action that has been decided on, but deciding to do something is not the same thing as actually doing it.
To increase your chances of success, resolve to set goals instead. Goals are the measurable results within a fixed time frame toward which effort is directed. In other words, goals are specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely.
For example, among the top ten New Year’s Resolutions for 2012, according to statisticbrain.com, are losing weight, getting organized, and learning something exciting. The vagueness of such a resolution is sure to be a contributing factor in its failure. Instead, the goal should be specific and measurable such as, “I will lose five pounds by June,” “I will sign up for a snowboarding lesson this month,” or “This week, I will buy a shoe rack for my closet.”
Another way to ensure success is to focus on one goal at a time. Create a specific list of goals for the year and choose the one that is most important to you. Once you've achieved this goal, it’s time to tackle the next one.
Writing down your goals will boost your chances of success, as will enlisting a partner or a support group. If you want to run a 5K this spring, write your goal on a sticky note and post it on your bathroom mirror, schedule time for training, and highlight the race date on the family calendar. By running with a partner or joining a running group, you’ll not only have someone to hold you accountable, but someone to share the journey with, which will likely make the process more rewarding and enjoyable.
Another helpful tip is to focus on the positive by structuring your goals around what you will do instead of what you won’t do. For instance, instead of saying “I won’t eat junk food,” try phrasing it as “I will eat more vegetables,” and then strategically post reminders in the places where temptation lurks. A note on the freezer door that reads “choose carrots” may be just the thing to keep you from reaching for that pint of Ben & Jerry’s.