It’s that time of the year again when we set our new goals. The unfortunate truth, however, is that many of us set these goals but fail to achieve them (guilty as charged).
According to a study conducted by ComRes, of the entire British adult population only 26% actually made a resolution in 2015 and only 12% successfully kept the resolution they made. Statistics, which are quite startlingly as it is disheartening if you ask me.
But why is this you ask? Well, I believe it’s because many of us set unrealistic expectations, where we easily lose hope and motivation (the most common reason in the ComRes Study). Now that doesn’t mean to say that we shouldn’t push ourselves, but it’s worth assessing what’s possible to achieve. That is, being honest with our capabilities, time constraints or other commitments.
Some may argue this is quite a ‘joyless‘ and overly pragmatic approach to life. What happened to thinking big and bold, or being fearless and strong? Nothing! Being real, doesn’t mean you’re not pushing yourself, it actually increases your chance of keeping a resolution in the long term.
You’re just being honest about your abilities. I tend to set my goals in this manner and I’ve found that when I’m realistic I go beyond my expectations.
E.g. At the start of 2014 I decided to go on a weight loss journey. I was unhappy with my size and wanted to slim down as my New Years Resolution. As a lover of food, I knew I would struggle with a really strict diet. So, I was realistic – I ate really healthy on 5 days of the week and ate normally on the rest, picking Sunday’s as my cheat day. I also picked two set days to meet up with my trainer and almost religiously kept to it. As a result, about a stone in 4 months.
Here’s a then and now picture (but unfortunately I packed all the weight back on last year, sigh).
But the point is, I was realistic about my capabilities, (a balanced diet rather than a really strict one) and that helped me to both push myself (as I had never done this before) and be consistent.
Though, setting realistic goals is actually the easy part. Deciding to meet up with my trainer twice a week didn’t require me doing any work. Repeatedly going back to the gym to have my body pushed so hard I wanted to vomit was the real commitment. So, here’s some of the top tips that helped me stick to my goals and achieve them (aka Project Real):
1. The Bigger Picture
What’s the reason behind your New Years Resolution? I wanted to lose weight to become fitter and more importantly get into all my favourite clothes. This always helped me to see the bigger picture when things got tough and I wanted to give up. Ultimately, it gave me purpose.
2. Track Your Progress
It’s easy to get disheartened when you don’t think you’re making a difference. A month into your weight loss journey and you’ve barely lost a pound. Or that savings account barely has any new savings. Still, during my weight loss journey, I monitored the changes in my body no matter how small. Seeing that I lost an inch or two made all the difference and helped me persevere. There’s some cool apps to track your progress on such as Goals on Track which will help you monitor, visualise and enable good habits to help you reach success.
3. Reward Yourself
Sometimes keeping a goal feels like the longest task ever. It’s more like a chore than a piece of a bigger picture. One way around this is to treat yourself now and again to keep your spirits up. I used to buy a new book (African Literature of course!) when I hit a weight loss goal. It would help me de-stress, so that when I went back to the gym I often felt rejuvenated. Find what puts a smile on your face (keep it PG please) and use it to help you reach your goal.
4. Find A Buddy
Buddying up with someone to help you reach your goal is a great way to keep motivated. It’s even better when they have the same goal as you. I partnered with my lovely friend Nancy to lose weight and we supported each other by going gym and cooking healthy meals together. It made me feel more confident having someone by my side. Family members are also great buddies too, I sometimes went running with my mum where we bonded and lost weight.
5. Be Kind To Yourself
So you want to change something about yourself? That’s great! But, it’s worth remembering that with any kind of real change it will take time and you’ll probably screw up more than once. That chocolate bar that you promised to never eat may find its way to your mouth or you fail to go to the gym for a couple of weeks. That’s no reason to give up- dust yourself off and keep on trying.
Be you, all-ways