Christmas is just a couple of days away and, before you know it, we’ll be saying goodbye to 2021 and ringing in 2022! With a new year on the horizon, many people pledge to make changes in their lives that will make their new year better than the last.
There’s nothing new about New Year’s resolutions. The practice is said to go back some 4,000 years, to the Babylonians, who celebrated the new year by making promises to the gods to pay their debts and to return anything that they had borrowed. The belief was that if they kept their word, the gods would bestow favour on them for the coming year.
These days, New Year’s resolutions are as varied as the individuals who make them. But the trick is to stick to your pledge. So many of us fail to carry through on our resolutions, be it to become fitter, eat better, read more, volunteer, be more environmentally conscious – whatever. So, to give you every chance of success, here are 10 tips to help you formulate your resolution for 2022 and to achieve that goal.
Use the SMART goal-setting framework to help you to achieve your goal. A SMART goal is:
- Specific – For example, pledging to work out for an hour, four times a week is better than simply resolving to get fit.
- Measurable – For instance, resolve to lose 10 pounds, rather than just to lose weight.
- Attainable – You may want to pledge to cook a healthy dinner five nights a week, but could you manage that consistently, all year long? Probably not. Better to promise that you will cook a healthy dinner twice or maybe three times a week, a goal that is likely achievable.
- Relevant – Keep your resolution relevant to your priorities and goals in life.
- Time-sensitive – Give yourself a time-frame in which to achieve your goal. For instance, I will compete in the Toronto Waterfront Marathon next October marks a deadline by which you need to be in shape for the event.
Don’t wait until New Year’s Eve to choose your resolution.
Take some time a few days before, to think about what you want to achieve, what change will be really meaningful to you.
Make only one resolution.
Your chances of success are greater when you channel your energy into changing just one aspect of your behaviour.
Tell your friends and family about your goals.
Those who are closest to you want you to succeed in everything you do and will support you in your efforts and cheer you on when you need a boost to keep going.
Break your goal into a series of steps.
Divide up your goal into smaller, sub-goals, using the SMART framework. That way, you can celebrate each small step forward towards your goal, which will keep you motivated to carry on.
Plan for how to deal with setbacks.
Making any change in longstanding habits is hard, and slip-ups and setbacks will happen. Decide in advance how you’ll deal with the temptation to skip that trip to the gym or have that piece of cake. Maybe you have a friend or relative you can call for support, or practice positive thinking, or perhaps you can remind yourself how your choice will affect your goal.
Don’t give up if you slip up.
If, despite your best efforts, you do slip up, it’s not the end of the world. Take it one day at a time; keep on going and resolve to stick to your program.
Track your progress.
Seeing how you’re progressing is a great motivator. So track your progress by keeping a handwritten journal, maintaining a computer spreadsheet, or covering a bulletin board with graphs or pictures.
Give yourself a small reward whenever you achieve a sub-goal. This will help to motivate you and give you a sense of progress.
Give yourself a big reward when you reach your final goal. You deserve it!