Now that we have barreled head-first in to 2019, many of you have probably been thinking about tackling some life-changing resolution, and like most resolutions, they will be abandoned by mid-February (or sooner).
What is the reason for this continual failure that we heap upon ourselves?
Well, experts posit that we often doom ourselves by choosing resolutions that are simply not attainable, like tackling our most challenging habits. Those long-term, ingrained habits are difficult to change, and as we start to slide, we just give up.
So how do we change this habit of failing our annual resolutions?
Resolutions the Right Way
According to research on procrastination and setting goals, conducted by the Department of Psychology at Carleton University, we often set ourselves up for failure by:
- Choosing what we THINK OTHERS want us to change, rather than choosing habits we really want to change. This subtle difference impacts our overall commitment to following-through with the change.
- Making resolutions that are too broad in scope. The most successful resolutions are those that are specific and measurable (yes…SMART goals work in your personal life, too!). For instance, a goal to “get healthy” isn’t specific enough. A better goal to “work out 3 times per week” is more specific, and it’s measurable.
- Failing to make a plan often leads us astray as well. If you have a goal, but no specific plan on how to get there, it becomes easy to veer off the path.
The antidote for New Year’s Resolution Fatigue is to set little goals that are attainable and measurable. You’ll feel a sense of accomplishment as you meet the goals, which adds to motivation, and those little goals can grow into bigger achievements over time. And be reasonable in the number of goals you set. A daunting list of 50 broad goals will exhaust you before you even get started. Choose a few specific goals to start with, then add to them as you progress throughout the year. The small changes can add up to some really important improvements by the end of the year.
Here are some ideas to get you started:
Focus on one intention each day
If you have a journal or a note taking app on your phone, use it to specifically state an intention for the day first thing in the morning, then focus on that goal the entire day. An example of a focused intention would be things like: say one kind word to each family member today, take a walk during lunch instead of sitting at a desk, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, or taking a deep breath before responding in tense or frustrating situations. By doing this activity first thing every morning, you set the tone for the whole day, and as you do these things more frequently, they start to become positive habits that grow into bigger changes.
Tackle the toughest tasks first
This may seem counter-intuitive, because we are often told to mark off as many of the easy things first, which snowballs (yes, think Dave Ramsey and the debt snowball) into goal achievement. However, many experts say that putting other things ahead of the most important or most intimidating tasks allows us to find excuses not to do them, which is the definition of procrastination. Not to mention the stress it causes when these things don’t get done. So, while the snowball effect may work well for paying off credit card debt or getting healthy, when it comes to achieving your daily work or interpersonal goals, it’s best to get the more complicated tasks done first, so they aren’t hanging over your head.
Make small health changes
No matter whether you have a goal to lose weight, run a marathon, or eat healthier, the key is to start with small changes. Your motivation will grow as you achieve these small successes, and you can add additional goals as you progress through the year. So make a goal to take the stairs at work every day, or to walk to the market a few blocks away, rather than taking the bus. Make a goal to eat one green vegetable with every meal, or to make one night per week a “meat-free” or “sugar-free” meal. You won’t be running marathons by the end of the first quarter, but you’ll be well on your way to making the lifestyle changes needed to get you there in the future.
Focus on the positive
Too often, we come home from work and completely unload on our spouses or significant others (and sometimes, sadly, even our children). While it is cathartic to share everything that went wrong with our days, it creates a lot of negative energy that just feeds on itself. So make a resolution that every day you will say something positive that went right that day. It doesn’t mean you can’t share your frustrations with your partner, but a shift to positive thinking may help put those frustrations in a different light – and it may help keep our partners from drowning in our negativity.
Take time to do something for yourself each day
Too often we get wrapped up in our jobs, our spouses, our children and their various activities, and we forget to take a breather and do some self-pampering. Our lives are full of obligations, and we need time to decompress and relieve stress. Even if it’s only 10 minutes a day of sun salutations, meditation, a nice bubble bath with a good book, or taking Fido for walk, these precious minutes will help you maintain a positive outlook.
It’s important to celebrate milestones and goals achieved, even if they are small. It may not mean throwing a big party because you used the stairs every day for a week, but you could maybe treat yourself to a Frappuccino or that amazing cookie from the bakery down the street. Or simply share your success with a friend and let them congratulate you. The reverse of celebrating success is to also forgive yourself for failure. It’s going to happen, so just be prepared for setbacks. Forgive yourself and try again the next day.
No matter what your resolutions are, trying out some of these ideas may help you feel really good about what you accomplished when you get to the end of 2019! When it comes to buying or selling your home, we are here to help answer any questions and guide you through a better understanding. Please do not hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone us at 202.800.0800.
Tags: Tim Pierson, Northern Virginia, New Year’s Resolutions, Motivating, Goals, Success