It’s that special time of year where things are wrapping up and we’re getting excited for the new year and fresh start it brings. Turning over the last page of the calendar tends to get us thinking about all the ways we would like to change or improve upon our lives. Oftentimes, as much as we want to make change, we find that just a few weeks into the new year we have abandoned our resolutions and quickly sink back into our old comfortable routines. Here’s a guide to creating New Year’s resolutions that you have a better chance of actually sticking to.
Step 1: Identify your goal – start general
Perhaps you’re resolving to keep a tidier house in the new year. Perhaps you hope to spend more quality time with family. Countless people set a weight loss and fitness goals for themselves at the start of a new year. Maybe you’re resolving to run a 10K or half-marathon this year. In this step you’re going to decide what it is you would like to alter in your life. This is usually where people stop when determining New Year’s Resolutions, but don’t stop here!
Step 2: Get specific
Now that you have a general idea of an area you would like to improve upon, you can start to look into some actionable steps you can take towards hitting your goal. Goals require habit changes to be achieved. If your goal is to run a 10K, how are you going to get there? Will you run 3 days a week? If so, what distance will you go each time? Where will you do your running? Plan out specific steps you can take to get to your goal. Maybe you will run at a local park, on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 3 miles each time.
Step 3: Determine if this plan is realistic
This is the step where you really start fine tuning your plan. If you know that you have never enjoyed eating vegetables in your entire life and your plan to fulfill your resolution to lose weight is to buy more vegetables, then the likelihood is that you will be throwing out a lot of rotting vegetables in January and February. Questions you might consider if your goal is about fitness/health/weight loss are:
- Have you been struggling to eat a healthy balanced diet? If so, what can you add to your diet to alter your habits towards healthier choices?
- Could you work to reduce your daily sugar intake instead?
- If you hope to run a 10K this year, but your plan outlined in Step 2 is to run three days a week for a total of 9 miles a week you might need to ask yourself: What fitness level are you at right now? If you haven’t been exercising regularly for 3 years, you might need to start by walking several miles a week until you can build up to running and eventually get in shape for your 10K.
Step 4: Etch it in stone!
Once you’ve worked out an actionable plan that is feasible for you and your lifestyle, take the time to write it down. Talk about it to your friends and family. Speak it into existence! Post it on your fridge or your computer monitor. Mark your calendars, planners, and to-do lists with the action plan.
Taking these steps toward setting your New Year’s resolutions is a great way to identify goals and outline a plan toward achieving them. As much as we want to focus on the end result when setting goals, we need things to get excited about along the way to keep us motivated. Do what you need to do to feel the joy of progress as much as end results! Happy planning!
Cassie Kroush, LPC has experience working with children, individuals, and couples and families. She uses a trauma-informed approach and seeks to help clients find their balance and happiness. She utilizes CBT and helps her clients outline specific goals to help them achieve their happiness.