New Year's Resolutions: 5 Mistakes To Avoid In 2016
The last week of the year is one of my favorites. I love this time of reflection; revisiting the ups and downs, celebrating the successes, letting go of some let downs, and making note of the areas in my life that I'd like to change. This is a fun time of year for me personally, as well as professionally. It's exciting to talk to clients and friends about their hopes and dreams for the upcoming year. Most people are highly motivated to improve themselves and their overall lives, and the excitement is contagious!
While I'm clearly a fan of resolutions, I know many people who are not. In fact, 38% of people no longer make them. As much as I love resolutions, not all are created equal. In fact, some resolutions can be downright dangerous, threatening failure so hard that you forego any and all future attempts of change. Most negative feelings towards resolutions come from the fact that they are often a reminder of our failures. Failure sucks. It's uncomfortable, frustrating, and at times, embarrassing. But without goals or resolutions, how do we continue to improve ourselves and our lives? Time will pass and things will inevitably change, but if we hope to improve and grow into the person we dream to be, we must be intentional about the direction in which we are headed.
Based on my personal experience with resolution failure, and seeing my clients endure similar frustrations, I want to share 5 common Resolution mistakes and ways to avoid them, setting yourself up for success in 2016!
1. You're not being realistic.
Motivation is a beautiful thing, and at the start of a new year levels are running high. Everyone is so motivated to see desired results that they attempt to change too much at once, rather than allowing themselves appropriate time to adapt. Behavior change takes time and consistency. Before you even set specific goals, make sure you're being honest about your starting point. If your resolution is to consistently work out 5 days a week and you currently make it to the gym once a week, that is a pretty drastic increase. Instead of planning 5 right out of the gate in January, start with a more realistic goal, such as exercising consistently 2 times a week. If you find that is easy, increase it to three... you get the gist. Starting at a realistic, yet challenging, pace not only helps harness your motivation for the long haul, but also allows you to experience small wins, a very important factor in long-term success!
2. You're only focusing on the outcome.
I love outcomes. Most of the time, they are the reason we set goals. They're what we look forward to experiencing. However, an outcome by itself is nothing but a dream. A futile wish. With every outcome you're hoping to experience, write out at least one, if not more, possible strategies that will support it. If you want to lose weight, what behaviors will you change to allow that to happen? If you want to run a half marathon, what training program will you follow? If you want to have more energy, what will you change about your diet, exercise, or sleeping habits? In order to successfully experience the outcome, you have to identify the exact behaviors that will support it.
3. Your goals don't connect with your personal values.
I've yet to meet a person who wouldn't like to look and feel attractive. However, aesthetics alone are not a strong enough driving force to get you through the difficulties that typically accompany change. Let's say you want to look better in a bathing suit. That desire most likely won't be what moves you to make it to the gym after a long day of work, in the middle of the dark, cold, and damp winter. The most powerful kind of motivation comes from the ideals or people in your life that you feel are the most valuable to you. So what do you care most about? Do you want to be able to play with your grandkids? Are there trips you'd like to take that you'll need ample amounts of energy for? Do you want to set a healthy example for your kids? I'll be candid, this is one of the most important steps in goal setting. If you can connect your goals to your highest values, the motivation to change will be powerful enough to overcome the barriers you'll meet along the way.
4. You're not planning them out.
If I'm honest, the number one reason I typically don't accomplish a goal is because I forget about it. Sounds ridiculous, I know. But in a world with an endless amount of distractions, it's easy to let your goals slip out of focus. However, when I plan out a goal as I do an appointment, put it on the calendar, and set a reminder, I am far more likely to succeed. I have a reminder on my phone that reminds me to drink water. It goes off twice a day, once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Drinking enough water is not always easy for me, but seeing this reminder makes reaching my hydration goals much more likely! If you're wanting to work out more, put it on your calendar. Scheduling a specific date, time, and even a routine you want to do will make it easier for you to accomplish.
5. You're focusing on what not to do.
It seems to make sense to focus on what's wrong in your life so that you can "fix" yourself. After all, those bad habits are possibly the reason you want to make a change. I tell my clients this all the time because it's true: change is hard. It's even harder if all you do is think about how much you're doing wrong and punishing yourself for it. Being honest with yourself is a necessity. Being honest in a kind and loving way with yourself is a productive necessity. When you look at your strengths and past successes, and focus on the positives that healthy change can bring into your life, you're going to experience far more motivation than you would by focusing on the negatives. In fact, by focusing on the negatives and "not doing" specific behaviors, you are lessening your belief in your ability to succeed and heightening your resistance to change. In order for you to be successful, you must first believe that you are capable of being successful. So think about and write out what you're doing well right now, and go forward with that energy!
To resolve means to have a firm determination to accomplish something. I'm currently in the process of writing out my resolutions and I'm very excited about the possibilities that 2016 holds!
What changes are you most determined to accomplish this year?