If you’re one of the 45 percent of American who usually set New Year’s Resolutions, you certainly want to be among the only 8 percent who actually stick with them.
“In general, the reason that people don't reach their New Year's Resolutions is that they set the wrong goal in the first place,” according to Talane Miedaner, who has over 20 years of experience coaching people around the globe. She is the founder of LifeCoach.com, bestselling author of “Coach Yourself to Success: 101 Tips to Accomplish Your Personal and Professional Goals.”
A Gallup poll last year said that about half of Americans want to lose weight but only about a quarter are even trying. The numbers are not that different when it comes to other non-fitness related resolutions. Regardless of what you wish to achieve in 2016, the tips for not giving up are fairly common.
“In life coaching, we know from experience to never let a client pick a goal that is dead—a goal that they've had for over a year or more and made little to no progress on.” Miedaner says. So don’t do it. Go over what you’ve planned for in the past and revise your goals. “For most people, a dead goal is lose weight and get in shape. The vast majority have had this goal for years if they think about it. Time to ditch the dead goals and get one that inspires you instead,” she adds.
For example, instead of losing weight, decide to learn how to ballroom dance or become a yoga teacher, Miedaner suggests. Either can be very taxing, keeps your body moving and helps you get in shape. “Pick a goal that really excites you.”
Making realistic New Year’s Resolutions has a lot to do with creating a new habit. However, that can be impossible if you don’t create a solid trigger for this new habit. In that respect, “if you are starting an exercise program, another huge mistake is to plan to work out three times a week,” Miedaner says. “The best way to establish any new habit is to do it daily and tie it to an existing behavior. Use visual reminders to get yourself going and a structure for support. Your trigger might be as soon as you've cleaned the kitchen, you go for a walk.” Use sticky notes, set reminders on your phone, or enlist a friend to go on walks with you.
Miedaner stresses on having the right kind of support being key to sticking with your plans. “If we spent more time thinking about what our structure for support is, then we'd be much more likely to establish the new habit or resolution.” But don’t worry; you won’t depend on other to back you up all the time. “The good news is, that while initially you might need the support, after a few months, you'll have the habit well ingrained and can reduce your support if you wish.”
Support is just one factor. Here is a list of 13 tips you should keep in mind when deciding what your resolutions for 2016 are going to be so you can actually keep them.
1. Goals must be measurable
Numbers don’t lie, right? General goals don’t work because you don’t really know if you’re making any progress. Besides, they are way too open-minded. Don’t set a goal along the lines of “I’m going to get fit.” Instead, be determined to lose three inches off your waistline or lose 10 pounds.
2. Set very precise goals
The top 5 resolutions are losing weight, getting organized, saving money, enjoying life to the fullest and staying fit. What is the one thing that describes them all? They are too vague. This is a major problem with picking resolutions, Miedaner says. Spend more quality time with my family is a badly phrased objective. “A much better and more specific goal would be Friday night is games night with the kids.”
3. Start small with one objective first
Why would you want to stress over more things that usual? Don’t make set grand goals. If your wish is to get fit, then just start with walking more or riding a bike to work, if possible. This habit will eventually translate to going to the gym a couple of days a week before you find yourself there almost every day. Do the same with your eating habits. Don’t go “cold turkey” on the desserts. Replace them with a smoothie perhaps. Go one day at a time.