By Dr. Michael Kiener PhD, CRC Director of Rehabilitation Counseling, Maryville University & Missouri Rehabilitation Association Eastern Chapter
With the new year fast approaching, conversations surrounding resolutions will begin to saturate the internet and media outlets. For many, the new year signals an opportune time to reflect on the past and reaffirm personal values and goals for the foreseeable future. Common resolutions center on becoming healthier with much of the focus emphasizing engaging in new exercise and weight loss programs. Unfortunately, most resolutions only last about one month. Therefore, the million-dollar question is how to make resolutions that are beneficial and worth keeping.
As the pandemic continues to loom large on all our lives, perhaps now, more than ever, it is advantageous to re-examine resolutions. The intent of this blog will be to explore how to reframe resolutions to have a greater chance of being accomplished.
The following strategies will help individuals create, monitor, and assess resolutions (or any goals) to ensure the best probability of achieving success.
1. Do not bite off more than you can chew
When creating a resolution or goal, make sure it is attainable and realistic. If you set a goal of exercising more but you are going to school, working full time, and have family obligations it may not be realistic to think you can consistently fit an additional exercise program in your daily routine. Perhaps a more attainable and realistic goal, in this situation, is to examine eating healthier meals or finding ways to walk more while at work.
2. Allow time to modify your goal and plan for setbacks
An important aspect to consider when accomplishing goals is building in time to assess your progress. Even if you originally thought you created an attainable goal, it may need to be changed. Instead of giving up, readjust and redefine what you want and can accomplish. Moreover, plan for times when you may not be able to progress at the same rate as when you started your resolution. It is normal to have fluctuations and if you do need to take time off it will not be detrimental to your continued confidence in achieving your goals.
3. Slow and steady wins the race
Setting and achieving small attainable goals build confidence and excitement to continue with your resolution. This is especially important if you encounter a rough patch. Even if you only accomplish a very small step, it is still more than if you did nothing. As a result, you can reflect back on your progress, readjust, and continue. Moreover, when you create one large goal and multiple sub goals, you are naturally not biting off more than you can chew and building in regular intervals to assess progress.
4. Create new habits that are already part of your routine
This strategy aligns with not biting off more than you can chew and slow and steady wins the race. Perhaps you have a goal of increasing your wellness and you also enjoy listening to podcasts on your commute to work. Instead of trying to fit something else into your busy schedule, try finding wellness podcasts to listen to on your commute. Or examine small changes to your eating patterns (assuming you are already eating on a daily basis). Again, building in small attainable goals will give you confidence to expand goals.
5. Envision the change and engage in positive self-talk
Finally, having a positive mindset and visualizing the changes you would like to make will go a long way to accomplishing sustained growth. Many successful athletes view falling short of their goals as an opportunity to grow and learn. Falling short of a goal, therefore is not a reason to give up, but rather to learn something about yourself and to continue to develop. Moreover, visualizing yourself accomplishing your goals and overcoming challenges will provide a road map of persistence if and when you encounter fluctuations in goal attainment.