Self-improvement is a shared hobby and why so many of us make new year’s resolutions and set goals. An Australian study found that 54% of new year’s resolutions made in 2016 were related to health and fitness, yet less than half were kept. Some statistics show as little as 8% success rate of new year’s resolutions.
Why do so many people fail at resolutions and more importantly how do we succeed at sticking to them?
Our habits become ingrained and change is really difficult. To make lasting change we must set up strategies to help us accomplish what we set out to achieve. The following steps can help us succeed in our goals:
- Mindset first
Successful goals begin with a positive mindset, a strong commitment and a belief that you can achieve it. Think about what it is you really want and why. Visualize yourself achieving your goal and how it will make you feel. Think about how this goal will add to your life, not what you are taking away from it. It’s easier to add a behaviour rather than just stopping a behaviour. For example; if you are aiming to ‘reduce unhealthy food’, make your goal to ‘eat healthy meals 80% of the time’.
- Focus on one goal & make it SMART
The first step is clearly defining your goal and writing it down. Follow the ‘SMART’ protocol when goal setting – i.e. make your goal specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Rather than making a generic resolution like “I want to get fit/eat healthier”, your goal must be specific. Do you intend to plan and prepare all of your weekly meals instead of buying takeaway? Do you want to reduce your body fat percentage by x amount in 3 months? Are you aiming to increase your squat 1RPM by x kg within 6 months? You goal should be ambitious but not impossible. Have an end goal, then break it down into smaller goals (perhaps weekly or daily) and work out the steps on how you are going to achieve each one.
- Understand the process & have patience
We have to understand that progress is never linear and change doesn’t happen overnight. Most people fail in their goals at the first challenge or roadblock. We feel like failures after a slip-up, drop our efforts and fall back into old habits. Acknowledge that accomplishing a goal is not about being “perfect”, it’s an ongoing process and you have to be flexible in your approach to push past roadblocks and challenges to keep moving forward.
- Track your progress
Tracking your progress provides a source of motivation and enables you to reflect back on how far you have come along your journey. If you hit a plateau you can use this to re-evaluate and adjust your plan to continue making progress.
- Make yourself accountable
Announcing your goals to family and friends (or even on social media) provides you with support and at times the extra motivation you may need to keep going. It takes courage and vulnerability as there is always the fear of failure when goal setting, but making yourself accountable and having a support network around you increases your chances of success. Another great way is to find a group or another person with a similar goal and work together on it! There are many online communities of people with similar goals particular related to health and fitness.
- Reward yourself along the way
Rewarding your smaller goals and steps along the way is a great way to gain momentum and keep you from becoming overwhelmed or discouraged. Tying your rewards in with your goal can give you extra motivation. For example; if your goal is fitness related you could reward yourself with new workout clothes which in turn will get you excited about your next workout.
Achieving goals is about using strategies to set ourselves up for success rather than simply having willpower. Happy New Year and best of luck for 2017!