New Year’s Resolutions?
As we think about the New Year we’ve just entered, resolutions are often front and centre in our minds. I had the privilege to speak to Vanessa and Leah at 107.7FM, The Pulse, this morning about how to move forward with resolutions. When considering a New Year’s Resolution, proceed with caution. There can be a lot of pressure on resolutions and that pressure can leave us feeling inadequate. Resolutions can easily become a way for the critical voice that lives inside each us to become even stronger. If we say our resolution is to lose weight (which is the most common one), and we have a week that doesn’t go as we planned, do we say to ourselves: “I’m such a failure, I didn’t lose weight this week, what’s wrong with me?” Do we use the resolution to beat ourselves up? This can be a huge pitfall of a New Year’s Resolution and can leave us feeling worse off than before we began. Balance is crucial; reminding ourselves that we are enough just as we are, which is not something we hear very often, can be a welcome gift to ourselves. Then, we seek to balance that with allowing ourselves to notice places for change in our lives. Both are necessary and very healthy. How often do we make resolutions like, “I am going to notice all the things I do I feel proud of myself for”, or “ I will notice all the times I feel connected to my myself/my kids/my partner” or even, “This year, I’m going to notice one way each day that I am content with myself just how I am.” These kinds statements can make a significant difference in how we feel about ourselves and ultimately how effective our resolution is. Less than 10% of resolutions make it beyond a couple of months (Matthews, 2015) . So asking ourselves what the motivation or intention behind the resolution is can be an important step. If it feels like something we “should do” as opposed to something we deserve, then making choices to pursue the goal can be difficult because the goal can feel critical and judgy before we’ve even begun. Here’s an example: If we think, I am going to quit smoking, and deep down our motivation is that our Doctor or family has told us that we “should” or we believe we “should”, it can feel like a slog to get through it. What might happen if we had a more gentle approach with ourselves? Something like, “I am going to treat my body with respect this year”, or “My body deserves to be treated with respect.” I would encourage each one of us to find and recognize our own worth as opposed to finding our inadequacies when we begin to consider resolutions. So when we’ve come to a resolution that is intrinsically motivated and coming from a strength position in our own hearts, how do we set ourselves up for success ? The SMART goal acronym can be very useful.
S – Is the goal Specific?
- There’s a big difference between “I am going to save more money this year” and “I am going to save $25 per week”.
M – Is the goal Measurable?
- Do I have a separate place to keep the money to see if I am achieving my goal?
A – Is the goal Achievable?
- Is it actually possible, given your lifestyle to achieve this goal? Maybe I could pack a lunch 2-3 time per week to save that much.
R – Is the goal Realistic?
- One of the most common pitfalls is that we choose huge lofty goals when we set them. Break your goal into small chunks, and once you’ve achieved that, you can choose another small goal to work towards.
T – Is the goal Timely?
- Think of goals in 2 week, 2 month or 6 month increments.
Another thing we often overlook is the power of acknowledging and celebrating each small step we make towards our goal. I don’t necessarily mean throwing yourself a huge party, but maybe it’s something as simple as, I am going to go out with a friend, or curl up with a book, or netflix series and take the night off tonight in celebration of all the hard work I’ve done. Or, maybe it’s I am going to remind myself how proud I am that I did XYZ. Some small acknowledgement, that’s high value to you and at the same time low cost, can become a motivating factor and can allow us to feel a sense of accomplishment as opposed to the heaviness that comes when we don’t achieve what we thought we “should” have. If you missed the interview this morning, you’re welcome to check it out here.