Setting your New Years Resolution

How to set a New Years resolution

that will stick!

There is something about the New Year that gets us all reflective and thinking about what we have achieved throughout the year. We also start thinking about our resolutions for the year ahead…these are usually our hopes, dreams and improvements we would like to have made on the year gone by. Despite the initial motivation and enthusiasm to stick to a new plan or intention only 8% of people (approximately) follow through on their resolutions.

So how can you set a New Years resolution that will stick?

As a Psychologist I have helped many clients set themselves achievable goals…and you can use these tips to help keep you on track! The best goals or resolutions are S.M.A.R.T.

S - Specific - keep your goals as specific as you can. Very broad or more general goals, like, “I want to be healthier this year” is much harder to keep because it doesn't give enough detail about what “healthy” means to you. Try to really drill down and figure out what and why you want this goal, so to continue with this example, you might instead say “I want to eat more fruit and vegetables this year” or “I want to exercise twice per week” etc. This is specific enough that you can tell whether you have met this goal/resolution or not. Try to think about; who, where, what, when, why. Asking yourself (and recording your answers to) these questions is going to help you set a really specific resolution.

M - Measurable - ensure that you set yourself an intention that is able to be measured. If you can see improvements, or can see yourself working towards an outcome it keeps you motivated to continue. So for example if you set yourself a resolution to “lose weight” this wouldn't be as effective as setting an intention like “losing 10 pounds” or “going down a clothing size”. The difference is that by setting a goal like “losing weight” there is no end outcome that tells you how well you are progressing…but the measurable goal like moving down a clothing size is very easy to ascertain. If you can see an end in sight, or track progression then you are more likely to stick with a goal.

A - Attainable - it is important to figure out what drives you, motivates you and you will start to see goals that were previously “far away” seem closer and more achievable. But you need to be honest with yourself that your goal or resolution is something that you can do (or are willing to do). It is no point setting a goal to run a marathon if you don't like running, or setting a resolution that is too big, like completing a university degree (generally not attainable in less than a year). So look at your limitations, think about obstacles (and ways to overcome these obstacles) and think about how committed you are to this resolution. If you can satisfy all of these questions for yourself while setting your New Years resolution it will help to you to stick to your goal.

R - Relevant - think about why the resolution is going to be fulfilling to you. It comes down to the “why” question you asked yourself when setting the “Specific” element of your New Years resolution. Why is goal so important to you? This step is supposed to get you thinking about the bigger picture stuff of where this resolution fits within your daily life, other goals and bigger life plans etc. A goal that is important to you and fits in with what else is going on in your life is more likely to stick than a goal that is conflicting with other important things you are working towards.

T - Timely - if you set yourself a realistic timeframe you are more likely to stick to your guns. Don't be tempted to rush yourself, otherwise the goal will seem too far reaching and you will lose motivation. But conversely, if you don't set any time frame then there is no real push or pressure to start taking steps towards the end outcome. It has to be a good balance. In this step you could break the resolution down into smaller stages or bite sized chunks. This will help you see some outcome or progression whilst you are working towards a bigger picture goal.

So there you go, its not a sure fire way to make you stick to your New Years resolution, because that is entirely up to you…but its a great recipe to get you on track. Let me know what your resolutions are in a comment below, and whether the SMART steps were helpful in making this goal more clear. But regardless, happy new year and all the best for the year ahead!!!