Are New Year’s resolutions simply an exercise in futility? The answer could be yes. Guest Columnist Anjana Mohan, talks about how you should be smart about pursuing your resolutions.
Look at any gym in January and you will see it packed. However, come end of February and only 8% of the people who make fitness resolutions are pursuing them.
Are you part of that 8%? If yes, great! Statistics show that only 4% make it through March – want to be part of that 4%? If yes, try to follow the things mentioned below and you probably will.
If you’re in the 92%, don’t fret. Face your failures squarely and recognize your challenges so you can overcome them. Don’t judge yourself. Your reasons for not being able to stick to your resolutions so far are exactly your path to success.
It’s not too late to make new resolutions. Even if you have been successful so far, new resolutions may help you ride a fresh new wave of energy to hold on to them. New Year isn’t the only time for resolutions and to be fair, a lot may have changed through the holidays and the first couple of months of the year. Studies show that people who make resolutions (at any time through the year!) are 10 times more likely to create the habits they want than those who don’t.
So, don’t be afraid or cynical or worried that it is not coinciding with a calendar milestone. Renewal and regeneration need not be limited just to the beginning of the year. The start of each month, each week, each day, and if you really want something badly enough, the start of every minute and every second offers the potential to alter your habits.
Regardless of whether you need to resolve anew, or simply sustain your new normal, pause before you proceed. Have you learnt your January lessons?
- Has it gotten harder or easier to create and stick to your action plan?
- How realistic were you being? Is there an adjustment that you may benefit from?
- Were you specific enough with your goals?
- Were you precise enough with the action plan to achieve them?
- What has worked, and what has not between your New Year resolution and today?
- Who, or what are you accountable to and is your accountability system working for you?
- How badly do you still want it?
Finding honest answers to these questions will help you craft your best game plan for your own future.
Review how “SMART” you have been with your resolutions.
S– Have you defined your actions to be Specific and Significant?
Ex: I want to lose weight vs. I want to lose 2kgs every 1 month until I reach my target weight
M– Is your goal Measurable and Meaningful?
Ex: I want to run longer distances vs. I want to run 10km comfortably every weekend
A – Are your expected results Attainable?
Ex: I want to look buff with washboard abs vs. I want to reduce my lower waist by 3cm by Apr
R – Is your game plan Relevant & Rewarding?
Ex: I want to be able to wear anything vs. I want to wear my swimsuit at my school reunion in Goa
T – Are your actions Time Bound & Trackable?
Ex: I want to be able to run a 10k vs. I will run the TCS 10k on 19thMay 2019 this year
Keep in mind that these “SMART” facets are interrelated. Your time-bound goals that are measurable and meaningful may still need to broken down into smaller attainable and relevant chunks of effort.
If your new habits are getting easier, then you’re on the right track to establishing your new normal. Regularity and consistency are more important than intensity. The latter will be an automatic layering as a result of the former. If you haven’t been able to achieve your resolutions yet, perhaps you weren’t being realistic enough for your circumstances. Give yourself a range with an acceptable scale-back measure, so that you have an “out” without giving up – i.e., a way to scale back or define acceptable failures so as to create controlled boundaries around them that allow you to bounce back and keep progressing.
Regardless of whether or not you are able to take your actions daily or as planned towards your goals, spend a little time every single day thinking about your resolutions and your goals.
- Consider whether you truly want it and why
- Focus on the benefits the goal will bring to your life.
- Visualize your goals – who you will become when they are achieved and for having met them
- Increase your awareness of activities that take away from your goals and catch your own self-sabotage
- Plan your day and visualize yourself completing your action set
- Recognize your incremental successes. Set up and anticipate some mini reward for yourself.
These reflections can be done anywhere in your mind, but it is important to do them every day.
Here are a few bonus tips to truly up your game and be on par with the world’s best achievers, Olympic medalists, and professional athletes.
- Make your goals AND actions boldly and regularly visible (Use props, images, screen backgrounds, wall calendars to check mark your ongoing, bite-sized successes)
- Tell other people and ask to be held accountable (use social media if you like)
- Team Up – try to identify someone else with a similar goal and check in with them regularly
Last is to set up some formal evaluation points at regular intervals and work towards these “unit tests” along with more elaborate reflections at the conclusion of each.
Although it is possible to prioritize a long list of resolutions, it is most effective to choose just one goal for a time period and focus on it as a “myself” project. Having more than one goal at a time gives you opportunities to justify failure. Establish the habits you need for a single goal, create the new normal and then accept and roll that new normal into a sustained way of life.
Whether you succeeded or failed so far, it is only February! What this means is that there is still plenty of time to accomplish what you want this year.