Every year, people make resolutions to lose weight, spend less, get organized, and travel more, but research reported by Inc. says only 8 percent of them actually achieve their goals.
Why? It’s often because of unrealistic expectations.
“One of the biggest problems is people make unreasonable resolutions,” said Dr. Blair Davison with Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.
Impossible resolutions have only one outcome: failure.
“You don’t want to say, ‘I’m never eating another carbohydrate’ or ‘I’m never spending any more money on entertainment,’” Dr. Davison said.
However, there are things you can do to improve your chances of reaching goals. Here are some tips for sticking to your New Year’s resolutions.
Set reasonable goals
Taking a series of small, consistent steps will win out over wild leaps. But it doesn’t hurt to start with the end in mind.
For example, if you want to lose 50 pounds, make a goal to lose two or three pounds a month and keep it off. When you stick to this reasonable goal for a long period of time, you’ll likely see permanent results compared to starving yourself only to see the weight creep back up when the resolution has been fulfilled.
Similarly, if you want to start exercising, setting a simple goal like going for a 10-minute walk five times a week is a great place to start.
“Any little increment of physical activity is going to be a great boost to weight loss and feeling better,” Rita Redberg of the American Heart Association’s Scientific Advisory Board for the Choose to Move program told WebMD.
This principle applies to many common resolutions. The trick is to set a goal you know you can achieve but aren’t doing.
Target one behavior at a time
Overloading yourselves with too many New Year’s resolutions ends in one of two ways: You forget some of your goals, or you get overwhelmed by the sheer number and give up.
“Don’t go for changing your whole being,” Dr. Davison said. “That’s probably not going to work.”
Instead, narrow your resolutions to a few related goals that build on each other or could be worked on concurrently. Goals like traveling, saving money, and starting a hobby likely won’t be able to coexist. If it helps, make a list of all your goals, and then break them into smaller ones. Choose a few that complement each other, and file away the rest of the list for the future.
If you’re worried your motivation for achieving goals will decrease over time, find ways to keep yourself accountable.
“Accountability keeps you striving toward your goals and reaching for your dreams,” according to Entrepreneur.com. “Accountability accelerates your performance by helping you make consistent, steady progress.”
Dr. Davison suggests telling supportive friends and family members about your goals. They can check in with you over time to see if you’re sticking to them and offer support when you feel like giving up.
Be nice to yourself
It’s normal to feel frustrated when goals don’t go according to plan and you find yourself failing at keeping resolutions again and again. Failure is a part of the process.
“Don’t beat yourself up,” Dr. Davison said. “Change is a process. Go for little gains. The great thing about tomorrow is it’s a new day with no mistakes, and so you can start again.”
For help with reaching your health goals and maintaining a fit lifestyle, visit Providence St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula.