Lose weight. Save money. Be healthier. And for about a week you stick to those typical New Year’s resolutions and then slide back into old habits. Not this year – we are going to learn how to set achievable resolutions and build our confidence.
How to Set a New Year’s Resolution
A graphic designer we know – perpetually short on cash, poor eating habits – writes out her resolutions on the nicest scraps of Christmas gift wrap, then attaches them to balloons left over from her New Year’s Eve party and releases them to the wind. Very poetic, very ceremonial, not at all useful to accomplishing her goals. Here are some strategies that help:
1. There can be only one
Don’t divide your attention. You do not have inexhaustible supplies of will power and determination. Picking just one resolution allows you to devote all your resources to accomplishing just one goal. What’s so tough about doing two if they are similar? Even overachievers at Stanford had trouble making healthy decisions when their task got slightly more complicated. In one study, undergrads were divided into two groups: one had to memorize a two-digit number, the other a seven-digit number. Those who had to think on seven digits? Twice as likely to choose chocolate cake over a fruit salad.
2. Get Specific
Setting a goal for a whole year can be a lofty proposition. The possibilities so expansive we cannot help but be generic: “I’m going to lose weight. A lot of it!” Setting specific goals allows for evaluation – did you lose 10 pounds in three months? Did you do 100 squats yesterday? Did you walk three miles today? In studies, goal setting has lead to higher achievement when compared against vague or non-quantifiable goals.
3. Buddy System
Humans beings are social beings. We achieve more together than we do apart. And that’s as true for nations as it is for individuals trying to build a little more muscle mass. Build a support group for your resolution. Even your friends can’t help you lift the bar, or run that last mile, they can provide emotional support that reduces stress and anxiety which will help you achieve your goals. SuperBetter is a game that helps you achieve health goals by increasing your resilience and asks you to recruit real life support to aide you in the game of SuperBetter healthy living.
What if instead of rehashing old resolutions or spending time conjuring up a worthy goal, you simply asked a loved one to set your goal? For some, it gives them the challenge they need to really make a dramatic change. According to the Wall Street Journal, a loved one can see our blind spots and provide an objective view of what we should change about ourselves and habits. And they can provide an effective measure (see specific) and the support (see buddy system) we need to achieve.
30-Day Trial: Test Before Launch
As you can see, successfully achieving a New Year’s resolution is more about creating a successful system than blind determination. And to find that system, you need to engage in some experimentation. If you’ve decided running 3 miles in under 27 minutes is your goal, take time to try out routes or training schedules. Take the time to figure out the hurdles you will have to jump and the tricks you can use to get back on track when life’s emergencies derail you.
Secret to Success: The Daily Reminder
To succeed you need to stay focused (hopefully on just one goal), have a support group, a measurable goal and a system that works. But how do you tie that all together? Keep a journal. Webcam yourself. Take a daily picture of your route, your gym, your meal. Or simply put a reminder on your phone of why this resolution is important to you.
The daily act of keeping a journal or record will help you evaluate your success on a regular basis, but more than that it just helps you stay motivated. It keeps your goal in center focus, and that is the focus you need to succeed.
What tricks have you used to accomplish your New Year’s resolutions? Share in the comments or email us directly.