Now that January has passed, how are you doing with your new year’s resolutions? Sticking to New Year’s resolutions can be difficult, especially if they were made just for the sake of making one, as after a while the benefits can appear minimal. However, setting goals which are realistic, manageable and personal could be easier than you think. Here are some practical ways to help keep those goals well within your reach:
Big goals can feel overwhelming — especially if they require real lifestyle changes! Breaking goals down into manageable and attainable chunks help make them more real and not a “some-day, one-day” goal. This also means not expecting quick dramatic changes but finding a balance between dreaming big and day-to-day activities. So if your goal is to get fitter this year, think about what you can do each day, then what you can do at the weekend, what you can do the following week and so on. Breaking down a goal helps it become more achievable and eventually more of a habit!
Reflect on Failure
If you fail when trying to achieve your goal, ask yourself why? Failure is ok, as long as you learn from it. Failure presents an opportunity to evaluate current practices and develop methods to prevent it from happening again. When I completed my last half marathon I was over the time I had wanted to achieve and although disappointed, I was able to analyse why and change the elements of the performance I was unhappy with. To quote Thomas A. Edison: “Negative results are just what I want. They’re just as valuable to me as positive results. I can never find the thing that does the job best until I find the ones that don’t.”
Re-align your Lifestyle
It may seem counterintuitive but don’t always focus on the goal itself. The aim is to change your behaviour over time, create a desired habit and therefore change your lifestyle. For example, when it comes to ‘fad’ diets, it’s often found that most people put the weight back on when they stop the diet because it’s not sustainable, whereas it would be better to focus on a smaller change at first. A small change in behaviour could have a much more powerful impact on the road to achieving a bigger goal.
If you have a goal, find a friend to help you and push each other to succeed! When training before the start of the Hockey season, we would often work in “pods” and keep going each other when we struggled. A recent study stated that people who joined health clubs individually had a 43% dropout rate over the course of a year. Those who went to the gym together, regardless of whether they focused on the same type of exercise, had only a 6.3% dropout rate! At University, we assigned a weekly motivational text to a different person each week and regularly discussed successes between ourselves, keeping us motivated and proved that achieving a difficult target is possible. Psychologically, if you feel like you have a responsibility and commitment toward another person, you are more likely to follow through!
Understanding the obstacles you will encounter means you can prepare for them when you’re already feeling motivated. For example, plan your workouts or meals for the week on Sunday afternoon after a relaxing day, instead of just hoping you’ll make healthy choices after a tough day at the office. Little tricks can stop obstacles before they occur, e.g. setting a motivational song to wake you up in the morning, putting your running shoes by the front door to encourage you to get going, reminders on your calendar or removing temptation from sight! The goal is to acquire a new positive habit: make it so easy that you can’t say no.
I will leave you with one final thought from Winston Churchill: “Success is not final. Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts”.
Now over to you, good luck!
By Oliver Dear, National Account Manager, Mitie Client Services