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With the New Year upon us, many of us begin to reflect upon the past year and identify areas within our lives we wish to improve or change. Often times individuals view the New Year as a time to make extensive character change. We find ourselves entering into the New Year feeling hopeful and excited; however, when the reality of our goals set in we may be left feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated. The University of Scranton provides statistical data on our New Years Resolutions:
New Years Resolution Statistics
Percent of American’s who usually make New Year’s Resolutions 45%
Percent of Americans who infrequently make New Year’s Resolutions 17%
Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolutions 8%
Percent of people who have infrequent success 49%
Percent who never succeed and fail on their resolution each year 24%
Length of Resolutions Maintained:
First week 75%
Two weeks 71%
One month 64%
Past six months 46%
Based upon this information, it appears that half of the people who make New Years Resolutions fall short of maintaining them within 6 months. Where does the problem lie? As stated before, individuals often times use the New Year as a catalyst for extreme change; however, this type of thinking may lead one to feel hopeless when their goals become unattainable or unmanageable. Perhaps it is this outlook that influences individuals to miss their goals.
Rather than striving to make major life changes, individuals may find more success in reflecting upon the year and identifying areas in which they could make positive life changes.
Tips when thinking about New Years Resolutions:
Make Realistic Goals:
When identifying areas in which you would like to change keep in mind the size and reality of your goals. Setting realistic goals that you can keep will help to maintain your new habits. For example; if you would like to work out more consistently, schedule three days a week, as opposed to seven.
Don’t Overwhelm Yourself
Habits or unhealthy behaviors that we have developed over time, take time to change! Rather than attempting to tackle a handful of lifestyle changes, try focusing on one behavior change at a time. By focusing on one thing at a time individuals may find that they feel a lot less overwhelmed.
Be Specific & Set Milestones
Individuals who set broad goals may be faced with more difficulties when trying to reach them. For example; rather than setting your goal to be ‘lose weight’ be more specific such as ‘lose 5 pounds’. By making specific goals individuals may find themselves more easily motivated, as they are able to judge whether they’re getting closer to achieving it. In addition, by setting short-term milestones it will help you to stay on track and make your end goal more manageable.
Acknowledge Actions as Progress
When working towards your goals its important to acknowledge and pride yourself on steps taken to achieve them. For example; if your goal is to lose 5 pounds, one may get discouraged if results are not seen immediately – In this scenario it may be helpful to note the amount of actions you have taken to reach your goal; amount of days you worked out.
Make Your Goals Heard:
If we just think about things that we would like to achieve they are more easily dismissed, forgotten, or perhaps easily changed. Try making your goals more real by writing them down or talking about them with others. The act of making our goals physical and discussing them with others makes them more real. In addition, this gives one the opportunity to visually see and reflect upon the things we want to achieve.
When considering our goals a useful way of establishing them is to use the SMART method:
S – Specific
M – Measureable
A – Attainable
R – Relevant
T – Trackable/Time-bound
All in all, as the New Year begins use it as a reminder for a time to reflect upon the past year and identify areas of your life where a positive change could be made. When contemplating your goals for the year to come keep in mind the tips above. Set yourself up for success!