As 2017 winds down, a lot of us are starting to think about our goals and resolutions for the coming year. What are yours? Are you planning to “eat clean in 2018”? Give up sugar? Work out more? Eat out less? (Or maybe just eat less?)
How are this year’s goals different from last year’s?
If you find yourself re-making the same resolutions year after year, the problem may not be with you. It might be the goals.
Here are two of the most common reasons we fail to achieve our goals:
Eating clean certainly sounds like a good idea. The problem is that no-one really knows what it means. Similarly, goals like ‘working out more’ or ‘eating out less’ tend to falter because they are too vague. More or less than what?
Choosing goals that are specific and measurable, such as ‘getting to the gym 3 times a week,’ or will greatly increase your chances of notching a win.
At the other end of the spectrum are those take-no-prisoners goals like completely eliminating sugar from your diet. Or, going from never exercising to getting up every morning at 5am to work out for 60 minutes before work.
Nothing vague or unmeasurable about these! But setting goals that are unrealistic or unattainable (for you right now) can also set you up for failure. The first time you oversleep and miss your workout, you may be tempted to bail on the whole enterprise.
Choosing the Right Goals
I’ve found that the goals most likely to be acheived tend to have the following attributes:
Incremental: If you actually cooked dinner a grand total of four times in 2017, resolving to cook every meal from scratch in 2018 is probably not an achievable goal. How about resolving to cook two meals a week? (Cook extra so that you have leftovers!)
Sustainable: I once decided that doing 45-minutes of yoga every morning would make my life better. And no doubt it would if I lived on Mars, where every day is 24 hours and 40 minutes long. Here on Earth, it turns out that I can only fit yoga in 3 times a week (which is way better than zero times.) If achieving your goal requires more time, money, or energy than you have–or can make–available, the odds of long term success aren’t good. Try to choose goals that don’t require bending the time/space continuum.
Aligned with your values: Behavior change is always challenging. But changing your behavior because someone else thinks you should is nigh unto impossible. When considering which goals you might like to set for yourself in 2018, think about why each one is important to you and choose the one(s) that bring you closer to who and how you want to be in the world. Those are the goals that are worth pursuing.
Setting and achieving meaningful goals is a big part of what we do in the Weightless Program, a year-long group coaching program focused on behavior change and sustainable weight loss. The next group begins right after New Year’s. Click here to learn more.