No doubt with the start of the New Year begins the start of New Year’s resolutions. The question is, how to make them stick?
According to the New York Times, one third of resolutions don’t make it past the end of January. This is as a result of choosing the wrong resolution. Reasons that a resolution could be wrong for you include:
- Choosing a resolution based on what another person or what society is telling you to change
- The resolution is too vague or ambiguous
- You have the resolution but not necessarily a realistic plan for achieving it
In physiotherapy, our treatments are always goal orientated; what are you wanting to or needing to achieve as a result of receiving physiotherapy input? As physiotherapists, we are taught the concept of SMART goals, an acronym first coined in the world of management in the 1980’s.
Make your goals specific. Instead of saying I want to exercise more, specifically map out how this will look – I want to spend 40 minutes a day, 3-4 days per week walking. If a goal is too vague, it will be hard to know if you are achieving it or not.
This may seem a bit more obvious, especially with a goal like weight loss or fitness. However for goals that aren’t necessarily associated with numbers, keep track of progress with a diary, an app or photos.
Trying to take too big a step too suddenly can cause significant frustration if you don’t feel you are meeting this goal. Trying to completely change your diet overnight can be too much of a change and it is all too easy to find yourself back to eating foods you had planned to completely eliminate from your diet and life! If the goal is to increase exercise, start with short 20-3- minute walks, 3-4 times per week instead of trying to tackle an hour, 7 days per week.
Is this goal truly important to you and are you making it for the right reasons? Resolutions made out of strong feelings such as remorse often don’t last. Thinking hard about what matters to you and what is good for you is far more likely to go the distance.
The timeline toward reaching your goals should be realistic. Give yourself time to achieve goals with lots of small to intermediate goals along the way. This way you will get a good sense of achievement in the short term whilst you work toward your ultimate goal.