Prepare for success:
Fulfilling your New Years resolutions
By Cheryl Dizon-Reynante
“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin
As we ring in 2015, we look at the next twelve months that lie ahead with anticipation and hope. Perhaps there are significant events that lie ahead for you and your family, such as graduations, school accomplishments, career changes, weddings, births and anniversaries. Or maybe it will be more of a quiet year, with your routine not changing much.
Chances are, you have some plans for change in some part of your life for the upcoming year. According to Time.com, 10 common New Year resolutions are:
- Lose weight and get fit
- Quit smoking
- Learn something new
- Eat healthier and diet
- Get out of debt and save money
- Spend more time with family
- Travel to new places
- Be less stressed
- Drink less
Do these sound familiar? Have you made these promises to yourself in past years, but fell short of your goals? Forbes.com states that only eight per cent of people achieve their resolution goals for the new year. Setting goals are a great way of taking steps forward in our lives, but without concrete planning, they can seem vague and unreachable. To increase your chances of success, consider the following guidelines:
1. Keep your list short
When we come up with a long list of dreams and hopes, we feel great and hopeful at the beginning. But later, that same list can seem intimidating if we are not making strides at the rate we want to. When we get discouraged, we are more likely to give up.
Start with a short list of three items. If you find that you’ve accomplished these goals, simply add three more items. This method of breaking up goals into “chunks” makes them much more achievable.
2. Get specific
A goal consisting of two or three words is too vague and does not give us the necessary guidelines that we need. For example, the resolution to “lose weight” is too generic. We must add more details to this goal, including timelines. We could try, “I will lose 10 pounds in two months. This will be done by waking up an hour earlier in the morning to run five kilometres on the treadmill. I will also eat a salad for lunch and dinner from Mondays to Fridays, and eliminate rice and bread from my diet.”
3. Get positive
According to Time magazine, most people do not consider emotions when they make their plans. Studies show that being in a bad mood can increase the chances of procrastination, then failure. So if we consider how we can also stay positive, we will be more successful. In order to be more positive, watch those thoughts that you tell yourself! Be grateful for what you have, and the successes that you have made, as little as they might seem. For example, “So I didn’t lose any weight this week, but maybe it’s because my body hit a plateau. I won’t take this too seriously, and will keep working toward my overall goal.”
Keep a daily journal of things you are grateful for, and nice things that happened through out the day. Make an effort to notice the good things. For example, we tend to remember the times that we were cut off on the road, or when traffic is slow. But we don’t notice the times when we make all the lights on the drive home, or when the other driver waves after we let them into our lane.
4. Reward yourself for small successes
A great way to increase motivation is to reward ourselves after we make progress. In our weight loss example, we can give ourselves small treats after every week of sticking to our exercise and diet plan, such as buying a favourite magazine, going out for coffee with a friend, or watching our favourite movie at home. This will keep us focussed and on track.
If you want to take it one step further, get a trusted friend involved. Give them $200 of your own money, and ask them to give you back $20 every week for ten weeks only if you stick to your planned exercise and diet routine. Or else, they can keep it. Hello motivation!
5. Get a cheerleader or two
Tell a couple of close friends about your goals and how you will get there. Check in with them every couple of days, whether you’ve been successful or not. They will remind you that you can succeed and tell you when they notice any differences. And knowing that you will have someone asking you regularly about how you are doing will make you feel accountable. Better yet, you might motivate them in turn, and get them to think about their own goals in life.
6. Be flexible
And lastly, if something doesn’t seem to be working, try something else! It doesn’t mean that your goal is unreachable; you may just have to take a different road. For instance, if going to the gym is not a good fit for you, try joining a particular sport, or running outdoors. Different approaches work for different people. It’s just a matter of figuring out what works for you.
Wishing you a happy New Year and all the best in 2015!
Cheryl Dizon-Reynante is the founder of Nexus Counselling and a licensed therapist with the Canadian Counselling and Psychotherapy Association. She is a proud member of the Manitoba Filipino Business Council and a provider for the Blue Cross Employee Assistance Program. Cheryl has experience helping clients with issues such as grief, depression, relationship difficulties, parenting, aging and illness. She can be reached at (204) 297-6744 or firstname.lastname@example.org.