STAGNANT NEW YEAR’S RESOLUTIONS?

 

These three easy steps will revive your resolutions!

Only these promises were to ourselves! Why do most resolutions fall to the wayside after only a few weeks? This question bothered me, so I dug a little deeper to find out why and what to do about it.

I found New Year’s Resolutions seem to fall into two categories for people. The possible and the impossible. There are those that enjoy the prospect of trying something new. And there are those that see a resolution as impossible to complete (and therefore not worth trying).

Just looking at the statistics gathered by the Static Brain Research Institute is discouraging:

  • Percent of Americans who usually make New Year's Resolutions 45%
  • Percent of resolutions that are continued past one month 64%
  • Percent of people who are successful in achieving their resolution 8%

If you do the math, that comes out to only 3.6% of American’s accomplishing their New Year’s resolutions. And the main reason it’s so low is because 55% of us don’t even make resolutions! Remember, you can’t win the lottery if you don’t buy a ticket.

Plus, “people who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don't explicitly make resolutions” [1]. So making a resolution is far better than not making one!

You might be thinking, “but only 8% of those who try are succeeding, so why try. Seems impossible.” First, we have to stop believing in the impossible. Nothing is impossible. We are capable of anything, and it’s just a matter of putting our minds to it. We have to stop believing that we can’t do something just because we can’t do it right now.

There’s no “impossible” when there’s a plan.

As babies, we couldn’t crawl right out of the womb, but did that mean we would never crawl? Of course not. Our bodies and minds just hadn’t developed enough to handle the complex maneuvers that are necessary for crawling. Each day we strengthened the network in our minds and the muscles in our bodies. We got stronger and eventually we were strong enough to crawl.

While we have changed a lot since our infant stages, the basic abilities to develop new skills have not changed that much. We have to be willing to put in the time and effort each day to improve until we reach our goals. It may take weeks, months, or even years.

No one wants to wait years, but that’s the rough reality. Think about it, how long did it take to learn how to ride a bike? May have taken some of us a day, while others struggled for weeks. But we wouldn’t have been able to even step on that bike if it hadn’t been for the years prior where we learned to crawl, stand, and eventually walk. It’s all about baby steps, pardon my pun.

With any venture, there are three basic principles that need to be addressed. These can be tackled in many different fashions, but the ideas are always the same. Instigating the whole process is the goal. Without it, what are we even talking about? With a goal set, we need to do a little self-evaluation. Learning where we are starting from is crucial for the last step. Mapping the steps from point A, our starting point, to point B, our goal.

Three steps to get you anywhere:

  1. Set your goal

  2. Evaluate yourself

  3. Map your steps

SET YOUR GOAL

The first step is deciding where you want to go. What’s your goal? This literally can be anything from being more awesome to climbing Mount Everest (which is also awesome). The more detail a goal has, the more likely you are to achieve it. So if your goal is to be fit, what aspects of fitness are you trying to achieve. Do you want to be able to lift a certain amount of weight, or have a certain waist size? Both are great goals, but defining that for yourself will help you understand what is necessary to get there.

Every goal is measurable. The easier ones are goals that are quantitative (measurable). Running a marathon, losing ten pounds, or writing a book are quantitative goals. The harder goals to measure are those with qualitative results (measured by the quality of something rather than its quantity). But these goals can be made measurable with a spin.

 

Qualitative Goal Quantitative Goal
Bake an amazing cake Win regional cake baking contest
Eat healthy Meet daily fruit/vegetable requirement
Feel great about yourself Have 10 self-positive thoughts each day

 

Whatever the goal, adding a measurement is like giving yourself a ladder to climb. Once you know the goal or the top of the ladder, you can break it into steps or rungs on the ladder. Each rung represents work to be done and an achievement that contributes to your goal.

I’ll use myself as an example, so we can run through the steps. My goal of late is to run a marathon. I’ve never run anything close. Call me crazy, but I skipped the half marathon goal and went straight for the full marathon. A marathon is 26.2 miles; about 47,000 steps for me. I want my body to be able to endure the physical stress of that many repeated steps. I want my mind to give me the willpower to keep running even when my feet are crying to stop. This is my goal: step one complete.

Need some inspiration for your goal. Here are the top 10 resolutions:

EVALUATE YOURSELF

The next step is recognizing where you are now. What is your current state? This can be a daunting question. It requires self-evaluation without any rose colored glasses. If you lie about where you are now, you are not going to understand the real work that is required to get to your goal. There are a few ways you can do this:

1. Test Yourself

You know your goal, so test your abilities to meet that goal. Whatever it is you want to achieve, try to achieve it now. Understand you are not going to meet your goal, but do your best. You might even surprise yourself. For my marathon, I ran as far as I could. It was not very far, but it was a great starting point.

2. Ask a Friend

It should be an honest friend that won’t sugar coat it. A friend that isn’t comfortable honestly sharing is just as bad as lying to yourself. An honest friend will be an outside perspective on your current state. This can be especially helpful if your goal is qualitative and hard to measure.

3. Take an Online Quiz

Don’t know how to measure yourself? Let someone else help you. There are unlimited online quizzes for every subject under the sun. You don’t have to take much stock in the quiz results, but the questions should enlighten you about your current state.

I took one “Could You Run a Marathon?” The result didn’t help, “We recommend you try a shorter run first,” but some of the questions made me think (and laugh! Especially, “Have you ran a 5K? 10K? Half-marathon?” Nope, nope, nope.). It helped me understand my current physical state. Step two complete.

MAP YOUR STEPS

The last step is mapping out the steps to get to your goal. This is the hardest phase and where most people fail. Again, it’s not because it’s impossible. People fail at this step merely because they don’t take the time to fully map out their strategy, or they skip this step altogether. I can’t emphasize the importance of this part in the process. Don’t take my word for it…read Why Goals Need Systems to Succeed.

Furthermore, mapping out the steps gives us foresight, anticipation, and awareness. All are valuable to the success of your goal.

1. Foresight

By mapping out the steps required to get to a goal, we can anticipate the hurdles that are going to come along the way. This is invaluable. Instead of being discouraged by a hardship, we can prepare for it.

When I know I am going for a particularly long run the next day, I prepare myself mentally and physically. Mentally, I prepare by downloading a great audiobook or music that will keep me pumped. Physically, I make sure to get enough sleep and eat well balanced meals.

2. Anticipation

Along with potential setbacks, we will anticipate future achievements. I like to call these mini-goals and an opportunity for celebration. When we break our goals into steps or mini-goals, we have measurable stepping stones to work towards. Each time we complete a step, we can celebrate.

I celebrate with a treat after my runs, my favorite treat being a nap with my puppies. This way I have something to look forward to. I also have a tendency to celebrate during my run by throwing my hands in the air like I am crossing the finish line for each mile I complete. Each mile is getting me closer to my goal, so I want to celebrate each one. Plus it feels awesome (I’m a fan of power poses).

3. Awareness

This is my favorite benefit of mapping out my plan. When you know the process, you are always aware of your location in the process. At any point, you can stop and look at what you’ve accomplished so far and how much you have yet to achieve. This type of awareness helps reduce panic and provides motivation.

Think about anytime you have blindly worked towards a goal. It was hard to know where you were in relation to your finish line, so it was easier to fear that you weren’t making the progress you needed to meet your goal.

I’m a checklist fiend and enjoy marking off each step I complete towards my goal. I have a workout calendar for my marathon training, and each check helps to keep me motivated. So much so, that I even have checkmarks on my rest days (they’re important too!).

With a map to our goals, we can systematically achieve success. The limitations we feel today will dissolve each day as we work towards our goals. There’s no “impossible” when there’s a plan. Revisit those resolutions and make them possible. Nothing says you can’t restart now. Be one of the 8%. Be a finisher! :)

 


REFERENCES

[1] Institute, Static Brain Research. 2015. New Years Resolution Statistics. December 27. Accessed February 9, 2016. http://www.statisticbrain.com/new-years-resolution-statistics/.

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