A New Year, a new you – time to get fit, save money, eat healthily, lose three stone, read more, work less, sleep more, sleep less, the list is endless; it can be enough to send anyone’s head into a spin. We all start the year with the best of intentions, but how on earth can we keep it going? Is there anyone alive who’s managed to keep their New Year, new you changes until the 31st December??? It can all be a little overwhelming.
Fortunately, it’s not all out of reach. The BIG Health and Fitness team have a few pointers that can set you in the right direction, leading to lasting change. Whether you already feel that you’ve let yourself down, or you’re clinging onto your resolutions by your fingernails, we hope that you find some strength and help in the suggestions below.
We all expect to be perfect, but in reality, perfection doesn’t exist. Don’t beat yourself up, take heart and keep going.
Do we HAVE to start on the 1st January?
In my humble opinion, New Year’s resolutions don’t work. Think about it. We try to start them in the middle of the holiday festivities. On the 1st January you’re still in the party mood, and therefore far less likely to cut back successfully on anything. One simple suggestion would be that rather than the 1st January, why not give yourself some grace? Aim for a date when you’ve already returned to work – such as the week after? This way, you can be clear of the celebrations, and ready to focus on the task in hand.
Top 5 most common New Year’s resolutions:
According to a recent survey, people voted the following as their top 5 New Year’s resolutions. The following percentages show themes that will be familiar to us all:
- 71% wanted to diet or eat healthier.
- 65% want to exercise more
- 54% want to lose weight
- 32% Save more and spend less
- 26% learn a new skill or hobby
But how on earth do we manage to achieve these? The chances are that these goals are on many people’s minds, and yet keeping going each day towards them can seem an impossible task. So impossible in fact that by the end of the month, you may well have given up.
So just how can we set resolutions that are achievable and attainable? We do this at BIG by utilising SMART goals.
Setting SMART Goals
Something that we use every day as health professionals are SMART goals. You may well have heard of them. SMART goals ensure that their goals have the best chance of a lasting change of being achieved. They are used in several ways for people’s fitness journeys, and, they also can be incredibly helpful in ensuring that those pesky New Year’s resolutions really do last the whole year.
S – Be Specific
If you have a New Year’s resolution, make sure that it’s specific. The more specific you are with your target, the more that you’ll be able to visualise what the end goal looks like, and mentally work your way towards it.
Being specific gives you a defined target that you can work towards, and break down each week how you’re going to work towards it. As human beings, we work better when we have clear goals in mind.
For example, if your New Year’s resolution is to save money, don’t just say ‘to save money’, be specific. Set yourself a specific goal, for example, “I will save £2000 this year.”
M – Make it Measurable
Often, working towards any form of change of habit is more a battle of the mind than the body. By ensuring that our goals are measurable, we can break it down into smaller, attainable steps. These steps are gradually worked through, and before you know it, your end goal will be in sight.
For example, rather than saying “I want to lose weight”, say, “I want to lose two stone before next Christmas.”
Don’t just stop at the defined end goal however and just aim at the two stone – this will seem like a long way off, and you may be tempted to give up before you reach it. Instead, break the goal down into smaller achievable targets. What do you need to aim for each day to ensure that you have the best chance of achieving your overall goal?
For example, when I started my weight loss journey, I knew that I had a number of stone to lose, but I had to keep focussed on specific far more achievable targets. Otherwise, I knew that I’d have quickly lost heart and likely given up. On my first trip to the gym I did a minute on the cycling machine, and this was a huge achievement. On my next visit, I pushed myself to do an extra 30 seconds and increased it further by 30 seconds on the next visit. By doing this each time, my fitness improved gradually. The small daily targets quickly added up into 30 minutes on the machine, and not seconds.
By utilising small, manageable daily targets, the change will come more easily over time. You’ll also find it easier to maintain your new goals.
A – Make it Achievable (Attainable)
Making your goal achievable is key to ensuring that you will keep going until you reach it. If you aim for something too ambitious, you may find yourself giving up while the end goal stays a long way away. By working towards something attainable, you increase your chances of reaching it.
For example, if my resolution is “I want to speak to my friends on the phone each week” – it doesn’t give you a clear framework to work it into. If however, you were to say “I will use the bus journey home to speak to my friends each week” – not only are you creating an aim for the action, but you’ve worked out an appropriate space in your existing routine to ensure that this goal is achievable and fits within your current routine.
You want a balance of challenge to keep you motivated, but if this challenge is too hard, it can cause stress and become overwhelming. You want to aim for small changes and steps that can soon add up to significantly changed behaviours.
R – Be Realistic
As important as it is to be attainable, your goals also need to be realistic.
For example, if your goal is to fit into your old jeans, that’s great – but which old jeans are you talking about? And what does a realistic time frame look like?
It’s all well and good saying “I’d like to run a marathon”, but is this goal realistic over one year? Would it be better to aim at a 10k this year, a half marathon next and the full one the year after? Only you know your limitations. By being realistic, you give yourself a far better chance of success, and also the motivation to keep going when the change gets tough.
T – Make it Time-dependent
Last but not least, the last parameter that can help make your goals possible is to ensure that you make it time-dependent. Give yourself something to look forward to at the end.
For example, rather than just “I will save money”, you could say “I will save money to take my children to Disneyland next summer”.
By making it exciting too, it will help you stay motivated through the difficult seasons.
Record your goals
We would suggest that you record the goal that you’re setting. By logging it you’ll make a conscious commitment that this is what you want to achieve. Once you’ve committed, then place it in strategic places to ensure that you keep being reminded of what you’re aiming at – this will help to keep you focussed.
By setting short goals, you’ll always have a future goal to work towards – this is key to staying motivated. Use these to build to your middle goal, and then your larger goal.
A few extra tips for your New Year, New You Resolutions
If you’re still a little unsure, there are a few more tips below to help:
1 – Set the goals
2 – Know the end
3 – Reassess your goals depending on your progress and current situation – you can then make them harder or easier if needed
4 – Planning for the unpredictable – unexpected things happen, sometimes your plans need to adapt a little to factor these in – don’t let them throw you
5 – develop goal achievement strategies – how are you going to achieve it?
6 – Prioritise your goals
7 – Don’t set too many goals – you’ll lose focus, and they’ll all seem unachievable
8 – Don‘t compare yourself to anyone else – everyone else has their own battles and their own journey.
9 – Forgive yourself if you think you fail and keep working towards your goals
10 – Remember to celebrate your achievements – change is never easy, and you need to be kind to yourself.
11 – Don’t be disheartened by times when you fall – don’t worry, you’re likely to. If you want to break the diet, do enjoy what you want, but make sure that you get straight back on your diet. Monday will never come if you keep dodging the weeks.
We’re here to help
At BIG Health and Fitness, we work with many people to help them define goals; this can be done by contacting us online, or speaking to us in person if it’s easier for you. If you’re looking to define your achievable goals for your New Year’s resolutions, talk to one of our team today.
If you’d like to listen to Graham’s radio show that inspired this blog, please click here