New Year’s Resolution
It’s that time of year – the very beginning – when we all get a complimentary fresh start.
The annual talk of resolutions for the new year has probably begun. Before we start scheming how great our 2013 is going to be–how many times we are going to go to the gym, how healthy we are going to eat, and how much we are going to appreciate what really matters, let’s consider how we might set ourselves up for success. How we set our goals is just as important (if not more) as what our goals are.
There are a lot of theories out there about what makes a good goal, and today I’ll cover what I think is important. For a goal to be good it needs to have a few characteristics – it must be reasonable, measurable, and planned.
What does reasonable mean? Realistic, attainable, manageable. When you make a reasonable goal, you aren’t setting yourself up for failure by being overly ambitious. Do you have a demanding work schedule? Then maybe resolving to cook dinner every night isn’t reasonable, but committing to learning the healthier options at your favorite restaurants and choosing them half the time is. Haven’t run more than a block in all of 2012? Then maybe signing up for a spring marathon isn’t reasonable. Signing up for a 5k in April might be a better option. Setting reasonable, attainable goals will improve your chances of meeting them instead of feeling defeated come February (or January 2nd). And even if your goal is quite simple and easy, once you meet it, the next step is to make a new goal.
In addition to making a reasonable goal, you want to make sure your goal is measurable. This is important so that it is clear when you have met your goal and keeps you accountable to it. It is also helpful in tracking your progress to meet your goal. Tracking your progress is especially important because small milestones can be seen as “mini goals” which can build momentum and positive energy. Let’s take your resolution to run a 5k. Running a 5k will probably require setting and reaching “mini goals” such as walking or running a 4 times a week. Every time you write down the training you completed, you are reaching a “mini goal” and are that much closer to your goal of running a 5k.
Another example might be eating more vegetables. First of all, you will want to make this goal measurable by attaching a quantity to it. You could choose to count the colors, the number of servings, the types of vegetables, or the number of times you eat them in a day. Let’s say you want to eat at least three different colors of vegetables a day. That’s a measurable goal. Next you need to actually measure it! One way you might do this is to record every color vegetable you eat in a day. Do this on paper, a computer, or smartphone – whatever works for you. At the end of the day, the week, the month, you can go back and see how well you did.
Lastly, there should be a clear plan to keep your resolution and meet your goal. You signed up for the 5k in April. How will you make it to the starting line? You need to train! When will you train? Before work or after work? Make sure you have the proper equipment as well – you can’t run without a pair of running shoes and comfortable clothing. If your resolution is to eat three different colored vegetables a day, you might begin by going to the grocery store and finding recipes.
I will leave you with some ideas of New Year’s resolutions – just in case you’re a bit stuck.
Eat 3 different colors of vegetables a day,
Eat 2.5 cups of vegetables a day.
Eat a piece of fruit for breakfast every work day.
Only have one scoop of ice cream when you eat ice cream.
Only drink an energy drink on Mondays.
Run a 5k in the spring.
Run for a half hour 3 days a week.
Add strength training to your cardio workout twice a week.
Walk around the field 3 times during your child’s soccer game.
Sign up for an exercise class and go once a week for a month.
Cook 3 times a week.
Look up the nutrition facts of your favorite restaurants and pick a couple healthy options to choose half the time.
Bike or walk to work every Friday.
Stop taking the elevator.