New Year Resolution checklist to help you, as we enter the new year and are all feeling the pressure of committing ourselves to set new goals because we feel we must.
Did you know that according to a study carried out involving 200 New year Resolvers over a 2-year period, only seventy-seven percent maintained their pledges for 1 week but only 19% for 2 years – most were abandoned by mid-January?
Despite all the enthusiasm and apparent motivation, why do most New year’s resolutions fail and what should you do or not do to avoid feeling like a failure at the start of a new year?As a Nutritionist and Lifestyle coach, my work with clients involves behavioural change and establishing new healthy nutrition and lifestyle habits. Before starting to work on a personalised nutrition and lifestyle programme I first focus on my clients’ goals, their readiness for change and their motivation. Are their goals realistic, and are their goals aligned with their motivation? Is their motivation intrinsic or extrinsic? Below is a New year’s Resolution Checklist outlining the 3 key points that must be taken into consideration before making any new year resolutions – in order to succeed.
Readiness for changeAre you ready to make changes? In the wellness field of practice, Prochaska’s Transtheoretical model of readiness for change with 6 stages is used. Before establishing a new healthy habit -such as optimising nutrition, exercising more or quitting smoking- a person must pass through all of these stages.
- Pre-contemplation: The person is in denial/not aware that somethings are not quite right and sees no reason for action yet. For example, a health screening may reveal that something is not quite right and then the person moves into stage 2 – contemplation.
- Contemplation: The person starts thinking about changing, but not quite sure how to implement these changes yet.
- Preparation: You begin exploring change possibilities, investigating resources, and affordability etc.
- Action: You act for change; you start to practice the new way of being. You can either do this yourself or hire a coach to devise a program and support you depending on your goals.
- Maintenance: You work at maintaining the change. You figure out how to maintain the change in the long term during this stage. You may need to apply small tweaks to your goal and the programme to achieve it. This is where a coach can help you as an ally.
- Termination: The new behaviour is now a habit, part of your life. It is without much effort and comes naturally. Prochaska, et. al state that real success can be confirmed after a year.
Your MotivationAsk yourself the following question, what motivates you? For what/who are you considering this change? Is your motivation Intrinsic (internal Sourced) because you feel and you need to fulfill a deficiency? Or is it externally sourced (extrinsic) because socio-cultural norms and learnings or agreement with a person expects you to perform this new behaviour? If your motivation is intrinsic and personal development based and is rewarding for you and giving you joy and pleasure you are more likely to succeed in implementing changes – because it feels good!
SMART GoalsOne of the reasons most resolutions fail is because they are vague. Your goals should be SMART -an acronym that stands for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.
- Specific. Your goal should be specific. Instead of saying I want to lose weight, say “I want to lose 5 pounds in the first x weeks.”
- Measurable. If you don’t measure it, you can’t improve it. Always break your goals into small intervals, instead of focusing on annual achievements you should break it down to monthly intervals so that way you can measure your progress better – it is more rewarding and motivating. For example, instead of saying I shall lose 20 kg in one year, it is better to say I shall lose 2kg every month. Use a tracking sheet or app to track your progress.
- Achievable. You can have a goal that is challenging you. But can you achieve it, do you have the resources for it, has anyone else achieved it before? For example, if would like to exercise more and get fit but If you have not exercised much before, is it realistic to set a goal to do HIIT type of exercise 3-4 times a week without feeling the strain on your body?
- Relevant. Is this a goal that really matters to you, and are you making it for the right reasons? is this goal aligned with your lifestyle and purpose in life?
- Time-bound. Give yourself enough time to achieve your goal. Cut your goal into smaller time intervals to track your achievement.