Did you know that only 8% of people are estimated to stick to their New Year's resolutions throughout the year? What's their secret? We all seem to have the same level of post-holiday drive come January 1st, yet statistics show that most of us are likely to fail. So, what factors make that drive slow down or halt completely? What kind of resolutions set us up for success? Let's take a look at the potential setbacks of goal-setting and how to overcome them all year long.
Steer clear of 'avoidance goals'. These seem to be the most common goals we hear in the health industry; things like "I won't buy fast food" or "I'm not going to eat any desserts". As perfect as they may seem, these types of goals essentially beckon failure. You're restricting yourself from the habits you're most drawn to without any plan or knowledge on how to do so. It's like being at a store as a child and seeing a "Don't Touch" sign. You probably thought about touching it the rest of your time there, or DID just because you knew you shouldn't. Resolutions should not provoke an act of defiance or feel like a punishment. They should revolve around behaviors that make you feel better every day.
Set a behavior goal, not an outcome goal. Unsurprisingly, the most common New Year's resolution in 2015 was to lose weight. Sounds easy enough, right? If you don't identify how you're going to lose weight, chances are you will not have long-term success. Instead, think about a behavior that would help you lose weight. If you eat out a lot, you might be tempted to make your goal "To stop going out to eat" (again, an avoidance goal). Is that realistic, though, never eating at a restaurant the entire year? Probably not. What IS a realistic goal, however, is something like "Make at least four dinners at home each week". Not only is that a behavior (rather than an outcome) goal, but it's also specific, which provides you direction so you're more likely to succeed.
When obstacles arise, believe in yourself. You may have heard the phrase, "Whether you believe you can or believe you can't, you're right". As blunt as that is, it could not be more true! According to research done at Stanford University, each individual controls his or her own willpower. Negative self-talk and a discouraged mindset can sabotage your efforts. At the same time, the more often you tell yourself you CAN, the more likely you will. A major key to adopting new habits is overcoming obstacles. The more you can stay positive and refocus after those challenges occur, the more likely you are to be within that successful 8%.
Lastly, I always recommend setting a goal with another person or spending time with someone who has already achieved that goal. The success that a strong support network brings is the main reason I created couples, family, and team packages for All-Inspired Wellness. If you see someone else succeed at a similar goal, it feels more doable and strengthens your willpower in thinking, "If they can do it, I can do it". Whether your support network is a friend, a spouse, or your health coach, find someone who will provide you with encouragement and guidance throughout your journey.
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