It’s January 7th. Half of the country has already fallen off the resolution bandwagon. On the positive side, about 25% of Americans will stick to their resolutions through January. That’s 60-70 million people trying to imprint a positive change on their lives. Still, only about 8% of those 60-70 million will stick with it through the end of the year and actually implement long-term change. If those numbers make you feel a little hopeless… don’t!
Here are a few simple things you can do to ensure your success and improve your chances at positive change and progress.
Finding Goals and Motivation
- Be clear with yourself. Figure out what’s really driving you.
- What’s the goal itself? Be very specific. Do you want a bigger bench press? Set a number. “I will increase my bench press by 50 pounds this year.” Want to improve your snatch performance? Again, be specific. “I will improve my technical snatch performance to improve my successful lift consistency from 60% to 80%.” Maybe you want to eat clean? “I will eat according to my meal plan six days each week.” Let’s go deeper than the physical. My own goal this year is to reduce how much I raise my voice with my children.If my eldest son spills a handful of peanuts on the floor of my van, typically I would yell at him. My goal this year is to calmly ask him to pick up the peanuts. My specific goal is to “Consistently support my children’s actions in accountability, not my own reaction.” Goals can be huge and noticeable, or they can be the smallest moments of life that make a huge difference to you and your family.
- So you know your goals… have you figured out why they are important to you? If you can find the internal motivation for the reason you want to make this change, you will be more successful. You want to be more progressive as an individual, maybe you want to feel healthier and have more energy. Perhaps you want to be a good example for your children. Maybe you know someone struggling with a serious life sickness and you are finally acknowledging that there is no better time to be motivated to change your habits than now! All of these things can be a spark for solid motivation.
- Just like you can’t lose 40 pounds overnight, you can’t change any habit overnight.
- Don’t get lost in goal setting, make your plan to achieve the goal part of your goal-setting. Break your larger goal into smaller tasks and work backward.
- Let’s stick with weight loss as the example. Recognize that 1-2lbs/week is a healthy average of weight loss. Therefore, in an ideal scenario, you can lose 40 pounds over the course of 25 weeks. That’s your main goal: lose 40 pounds in 25 weeks.
- Now manage the goal. It’s very important to establish daily/weekly/monthly and quarterly or yearly goals!
- Each month you will lose 6.5 to 7 pounds.
- Weekly you will aim to lose about 1.6 pounds.
- Breaking down your goal into manageable phases provides you with more frequent tastes of success, which will keep you motivated to achieve the next goal!
Attainability and Relevance
- Make sure to pick goals that are relevant and attainable! We’ve just done the math and we know that 40 pounds in 25 weeks is an attainable goal. However, to ensure long-term success by sticking to a 2-pound-per-week weight loss plan, a goal of 200 pounds in 52 weeks (one year), is not attainable, nor is it recommended.
- A 40-pound weight loss goal is relevant to someone who has 40 pounds to lose. It is not relevant to someone at 10% body fat. This goes back to understanding your motivation. If you understand your motivation for a goal, you can better determine whether or not it is a relevant goal for you.
Comprehending Triggers and Understanding Discomfort
- Identify your obstacles. What conditions in your life will be detrimental to progress? Focus on how to influence them positively.
- What acute triggers lead to the “problem” you’re trying to solve with your goal? Going back to my own goal example of yelling less. The trigger: my son not paying attention and spilling things. Now that I know this is a trigger for my reaction, I can more easily identify and more appropriately react to the moments with a calm response.
- Remember: identifying a trigger and harnessing energy to control the response leads to discomfort, particularly since most of us are used to instant gratification. Discomfort leads to growth. Getting too hungry and not planning your meals is a trigger to eat more than you need. Eating excess food leads to excess weight gain, and that excess weight gain makes you unhappy. Discomfort in the short term (avoiding trigger moments and resisting the cookies because you have a nice lunch ready to go) is preferable over significant discomfort in the long term (heart disease, diabetes, any of the known complications of excess weight).
Achieving long-term success in goal setting is a lot deeper than selecting a goal. Real thought, analysis, and understanding of yourself and your environment are critical to empowering your own success.