New Year’s resolutions are a wonderful thing. Whether your goal is to lose weight, eat healthier, get more exercise, quit smoking, or achieve a personal goal, resolutions are a great way to renew focus, refresh motivation, and set the course for positive change in the year ahead.
Unfortunately, those motivations are often short-lived and we often find we’ve abandoned our resolutions in a matter of weeks. But it doesn’t have to be that way. It is possible to keep up the focus and motivation you feel on January 1, all year long.
Follow these five steps to reap the rewards of keeping your resolution in 2022 instead of throwing in the towel until next year (again).
Step 1: Be Purposeful
The first step in making a successful resolution is to be purposeful and specific. There may be many things you’d like to accomplish in the year ahead but take some time to think about which one or two things are the most important to you, and what achieving them would feel like. Then, be specific. Don’t just tell yourself you’re going to “get more exercise” this year, say “I’m going to exercise for an hour at least three times per week.”
Step 2: Make A Plan
Once you have a specific and meaningful goal in mind for your resolution, it’s time to make a plan on how to achieve it. Rather than trying to jump from start to finish in an instant, break your goal into smaller steps. This allows you to work up to your ultimate goal over time with smaller victories that you can celebrate along the way, which makes it much more likely that you’ll see your resolution through.
One common way to do this is to use the SMART method of achieving a goal:
Step 3: Fuel Your Passion
Once you’ve got a plan in place, it’s time to set up reinforcements to keep you motivated along the way. Enlist the support of family or friends to help keep you on track (even better if they want to work toward the same resolution with you!). Think about why you want to achieve this goal and all the benefits it will bring and then think of ways to consistently remind yourself of that.
Get creative – put motivational messages on your refrigerator or bathroom mirror; create a playlist that gets you moving if your resolution is to exercise; create a collection of recipes that sound amazing if your goal is to eat healthier; or even schedule weekly emails to yourself when you first make your resolution, each with a different reason why you should stick with it.
Step 4: Inform the Process
Once you’ve gotten started on your SMART plan, remember that it is a process. Particularly for health-related goals, that process can sometimes be lifelong (exercising consistently won’t do you much good if you don’t make it a lifelong habit).
Like any process, it takes time and there is bound to be a learning curve, so don’t let slip-ups derail you. Forgive yourself for the occasional mistake and instead look at it as a learning opportunity. Have you found that you’re skipping your morning workout because you’re just not a morning person? Learn from that, and schedule your workout in the evening instead. Be patient with yourself about mistakes, but also persistent in your commitment to your goal.
Step 5: Mark Your Progress
Positive reinforcement is key to progress. This is where breaking your goal into smaller chunks becomes really useful, as well as nailing the “Measurement” part of your SMART goal planning. Before you even begin on your resolution, decide how you will measure your progress, what your “success checkpoints” will be along the way, and how you will reward yourself when you achieve each one.
Whatever your resolution is for 2022, we wish you the best of luck, and if it’s health-related, know that our entire Harrington team is here to support you!\
Primary Care: Internal Medicine
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