It's that time of year again - the holidays are over and a New Year is beginning! This can be a time of reflection about the year that is coming to an end. Many think back and assess their accomplishments for the year and consider how much they have grown as individuals. Of course, it is also helpful to think about what might have been done differently and what was learned from those experiences.
As Marti Hope Gonzalez, a Psychology Professor at the University of Minnesota, has pointed out, about 80 percent of those who make New Year's Resolutions fail by early February. New Year's "Resolutions" are usually not effective. However, it can be very useful to take time to think about the year ahead. What do you want to accomplish? What is working well in your life, and what needs to change? What steps are you truly committed to taking to reach your goals? What would achieving these goals mean to you and your loved ones? What would it feel like?
Two very popular New Year's Resolutions seem to be to lose weight and to quit smoking. But, if there is no "meat" behind the resolution, you are destined to fail. Deciding to start your diet on New Year's Day is a recipe for disaster. It is no different than starting a diet on Monday. Be honest - how many times have you binged on a Sunday night in anticipation of your new diet on Monday morning? New Year's is the same scenario.
Resolutions must be realistic, achievable, and most importantly something you are truly motivated to achieve. In order to be successful in achieving your goals (a.k.a. "resolutions") for the New Year, you must find what motivates you. In other words, find the internal motivation propelling you toward your goal. Why do you really want to achieve it? If you are losing weight or quitting smoking to please your spouse or your doctor, you are motivated by external factors. Your success will very likely be short-lived. You need to make lifestyle changes for YOU!
Ideally, you will assess your goals on an ongoing basis throughout the year and look forward to achieving new goals in the New Year. It is perfectly fine to tweak your goals if they no longer serve you.
Below are some other suggestions to consider while you pursue your goals:
- Get support - from family members, friends, professionals (e.g., hire a life coach to help you maintain focus and enhance your confidence as your reach for your goals).
- Write your goals down.
- Maintain a planner.
- Track your progress.
- Chunk your goals down into smaller, achievable goals. Have a plan!
- Allow adequate time to reach your goals. There are usually no quick fixes that provide long-term solutions (e.g., diet pills or starvation diets will provide minimal results and will only work in the very short-term; you will not lose 80 lbs. in a week!) In other words, are you being realistic?
- Quantify your goals. How will you measure success? To simply state that you want to lose weight is too broad. Exactly how many pounds do you want to lose?
- Set a time limit. What is the deadline to achieve your goal?
Remember that you are human! Manage your expectations, remain flexible, and keep a healthy sense of humor as you move forward with your goals. Make it a happy, healthy, successful New Year!
As a Life & Wellness Coach, Psychotherapist, and Personal Fitness Trainer, Coach Jenn A. Nocera, MA, MFT, CLSC, CPFT works with clients to redesign their lifestyle habits and remain focused and motivated as they achieve their goals and dreams! Visit her site at www.formulaforexcellence.com.