New Year Resolutions: Make Them Stick

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It’s that time of year again. Time for New Year Resolutions. Gyms are about to become packed, people are going to buy tons of equipment, books, how-to guides, etc. And they’ll probably forget about them in a couple weeks. Here is our guide to setting resolutions so they stick and you don’t become just a January Joiner.

Step 1: Dream Big

Find a comfortable place where you won’t be distracted, unplug and turn off your electronics and set a time for 5-10 minutes. In those 5-10 minutes write down anything and everything you want to accomplish or change over the next year. Nothing is too big or too small. Think about each area of your life – personal, professional, health and wellness, financial, etc.

Step 2: Prioritize

After the buzzer goes, take a look at the list. Prioritize the items and group things that relate to each other. Maybe some items need to happen first before others can be accomplished. After you’ve done this, pick up to 3 items. If you try to change too many things at once it can be very overwhelming and you’re less likely to succeed. Remember – quality over quantity!

Step 3: Make it SMART

After you’ve picked your top 3 priorities, get another sheet of paper. Now it’s time to make your resolutions SMART. SMART is an acronym for specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. A lot of times I hear clients set goals like “I want to get in shape” or “I want to eat healthy”. Well what does that mean? How do you know when you’re in “shape” or “eating healthy”?  This is time to set out some metrics.

For example, instead of wanting to get into shape, maybe your goal is to be more active over the next year by going for walks throughout your work day. Your SMART plan would look like this:

S: go for at least 1-15 minute walk during my work day

M: 1-15 minute walk per day

A: 15 minutes out of an 8h work day should be attainable

R: You can walk inside when the weather is bad or outside around the block when it’s warmer

T: every day

If you wanted to “eat healthy” you might shift that goal to eating at least 1-2 veggie servings at lunch and dinner. Your SMART plan would look like this:

S: 1-2 veggie servings at lunch and dinner

M: 1-2 veggie servings (Canada’s food guide outlines what is considered one serving for a variety of vegetables)

A: portion size is very distorted in North America so 1-2 servings is a lot less than we think it is and definitely doable the

R: Eating veggies with each meal is part of a balanced diet and something we should all be striving for

T: every day

Try to keep your SMART goals focused on the process, not the outcome. We can’t always control the outcome and focusing too much on the outcome can detract from you feeling successful while working towards a given outcome.

Step 4: Plan

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. Even though you now have a SMART goal, some planning is required to actually execute it. Maybe you get into the habit of looking at your calendar on Friday to plan your walks for the next week before you leave for the week, or you do it first thing on Monday morning. Actually putting these walks into your calendar as events will help remind you while you form the habit. If you plan is to eat veggies more often, having grab and go snack baggies in the fridge can help you in the moment. Take some time of the weekend to go grocery shopping and prep the veggies and meals for the week. I find the most time consuming part of eating veggies is chopping and prepping everything. Once that’s all done I’m way more likely to consume veggies regularly.

A lot of the time we blow off “meetings” with ourselves (ie. That gym time we had planned, that “me time” we had scheduled for the weekend). You wouldn’t just skip a meeting at work or blow off a friend because you “didn’t feel like it”. Treat the scheduled time for your resolutions like a meeting with yourself. Aren’t you just as important, if not more important, than your boss or colleague?

Another important part of planning is planning to fail. You won’t be perfect 100% of the time. This is completely normal – maybe you’re sick in bed all weekend and didn’t have time to hit the grocery store to restock the fridge. That’s okay! Think about ways to still stay on track before they happen. For example, I work very close to a Safeway so I can grab prepped veggies at lunch or after work. Most fast food places have salads on the menu now – just be careful about the fat and sodium content!

Step 5: Tell the World

The last part of the plan is to tell everyone you know. The more you tell people the more likely you are to stick to it. A few years ago my resolution was to run a 5km run that my workplace putting on. I absolutely hate running – I would rather do an hour of burpees than run 3-5 km (okay maybe that’s a bit extreme but you get the point). I told every single colleague, friend, and client about this resolution and honestly my clients are the ones that kept me accountable. Every time they saw me they would ask how the running was going and I felt like if I was telling them they had to be active at least twice a week I couldn’t not do the running. If you want to go for more walks at work, tell your colleagues! Maybe some of them want to join you and can use the break from their desk. Some of my best work moments have been on walks with coworkers.

Remember a goal is a dream with a deadline. Without creating an action plan you’ll be less likely to succeed with your resolutions. Let us know what your resolution is!

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