If you are like me you have probably made a resolution to be kinder, thinner, or smarter this year. You might even start a new resolution every Monday but rarely is there any hint of the change by Wednesday of the same week. Before you make your resolution for 2014 think back to your 2013 goals. Did you make a resolution? Did you stick to it? If the answer is a little less positive then you had hoped, don’t feel bad! According to the 2012 stats 92% of Canadians don’t achieve their resolutions by the time they bust out the streamers and party hats for the next year-end celebration. So before you go getting all depressed and using this unmotivating blog as your excuse for not even trying to set a resolution this year, consider this: 8 % win. 8% or roughly 2,800,000 Canadians beat the odds and take back control. The good news is you can be one of those 2,800,000 people in 2014.
Making (and yes breaking) your new years resolutions is completely healthy. Taking the time to do some soul searching and self reflection, finding your flaws or the parts of yourself that could use some work is what matters most of all. Don’t beat yourself up about it if you are not 20lbs lighter, a million dollars richer or fluent in 2 new languages by the end of 2014. Maybe its not you, maybe its your goal setting technique.
There are many motivational techniques out there to help you stick to your guns. Set yourself up for success in 2014 by using the SMART method, creating an action plan, using a vision board, or writing a sealed letter to the future you of all the things you hope to accomplish. Different techniques will work for different people, so try a couple until you find one that works for you.
Goals must be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely! So instead of resolving to “lose weight” make the resolution to “lose 5lbs by June 2014 by running and changing my diet.” Write down details under each heading to answer the question, “how is this goal specific/measurable/attainable/realistic/timely?” If the SMART method doesn’t work for you, don’t worry, I’ve got a few more options for you.
Decide on one big picture goal for this year and, in the words of speaker Andy Thibodeau, “Write it down!” Pull out your calendar and flip to the very end of 2014, moving backward through the year, writing down small steps you can take each day to get you closer and closer to your goal. For example if your resolution is to read 30 books in the next year, flip ahead in the calendar and write down the title of the book you will be checking out of the library on the first day of every month. (And if you are really forgetful, include a kind reminder to return last months book!) You could also consider jotting in a few dates for a book club meeting and suggest that a group of friends achieve this goal with you!
Designing a vision board is also a great way to visualize the goals you are hoping to achieve. Get creative with magazines! Cut out pictures, numbers, quotes or whole articles – absolutely anything that gets you excited to get to work. Make sure you put this board in a highly visible place that you will see everyday. On the fridge door, on your desk at work (unless your goal is to find a new job!) or hang it up someplace in your home so you can update it through out the year.
In the season of card and letter writing, take a moment to draft a letter to yourself. Writing a letter to ‘future you’ is a great way to encourage follow-through on your goals and congratulate yourself for the progress you have made. For example, I hope you feel fitter, stronger and healthier because of the work you have put in this year to live a long and happy life. I know you’ve been training very hard, are you able to run 10k yet?
This of course is not meant to guilt you or make you feel terrible if you didn’t achieve your goals, but it will make you aware of the optimism that you might have lost along the way. You owe it to your future self to make them a better person then you are today. Use encouraging language, be positive and tell future you how proud you are that the goals where achieved.
Its also a good idea to set boundaries, lengths which you will and will not go to, to achieve your goals. For instance if you want to lose weight, maybe you would be willing to give up wheat but not willing to give up dairy. If you are wanting to start a running program perhaps you are willing to run in the rain, but not in the snow. These simple ‘outs’ are like training wheels to allow you to take a day off without feeling upset about it.
Try put these techniques to use, and who knows, maybe next year you will be one of the 8% of Canadians who can say they accomplished their New Year’s resolutions for 2014!
Happy New Year!
– Kat Cullen
Broadcasting – Television & Communications Media, ’10
Follow Kat @katkx947