Thinking about setting a New Year’s resolution this year? According to a study done in 2020, the most popular resolutions were set on the topics of physical health, weight loss, and eating habits. From this same study, after 1 year 55% considered themselves successful at keeping their resolutions. Here are a few things to consider to help you become part of the 55% at achieving success:
- Start small and adjust the goal throughout the year. Setting a goal that is too large or overwhelming can deter people from even starting, or from quitting early on. It is ok to start small! Start with a small goal and re-visit the goal throughout the year and adjust it as needed as you improve. It is also ok if the goal changes throughout the year as commitments and life events change.
- Assess your motivation to achieve the goal. This activity helps identify if your goals are realistic for you in your current situation. After setting a goal for yourself ask yourself the following questions:
On a scale of 1 to 10, how IMPORTANT is this goal for you to achieve?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how READY are you to work on this goal?
On a scale of 1 to 10, how CONFIDENT are you to achieve this goal?
If you measured 7 or higher on all of these questions, then you are motivated to achieve your goal. If you have scored less than 7 on any of these questions, it means you are likely not motivated to work on the goal you have set and therefore more likely to not achieve it. To increase your score above a 7, ask yourself if there is anything you can do to improve your level of importance, confidence, or readiness for the goal you have set. Adjust your goal to help increase importance, confidence, or readiness. If you can’t think of anything to help increase your confidence, importance, or readiness of the goal, consider setting a different goal that you are ready to start working on, confident you can achieve, and is important to you.
- Make sure your goals is a SMART goal. This is an acronym to help make sure your goal is clear and precise:
Specific: Ask yourself the 5 W’s: Who, What, Where, Why, How?
Measurable: This is important to be able to track your progress and evaluate your success.
Achievable: Is this goal achievable by a certain date?
Relevant: Does this goal meet a need, bring you fulfillment, and line up with your values?
Timely: have you set a specific date to achieve the goal by and are you able to start working towards this goal right away?
- Make sure you are setting your goal for you and that the goal excites you. You may feel obligated you need to set this goal but are not excited by your goal. This could be a sign this goal may not be the right goal for you and that you may not achieve it. Re-evaluate and set a new goal that brings you excitement!
- Set ‘approach oriented vs avoidance oriented’ goals. An example of this might be reframing a goal such as “I will stop eating treats as snacks” to “I will allow myself to have 1 treat per day after a balanced meal or snack”. Research has found setting approach oriented goals to have more success.
- Consider getting support to help reach your goals. Behaviour change is hard! Consider getting support from a professional (for example: a registered dietitian, personal trainer, psychologist) to help keep you on track. Research shows that those who are more supported are more likely to succeed.
By Katrina DuBois, Registered Dietitian (Nutritionist)
Oscarsson, M., Carlbring, P., Andersson, G., & Rozental, A. (2020). A large-scale experiment on New Year’s resolutions: Approach-oriented goals are more successful than avoidance-oriented goals. PLoS ONE, 15(12 December). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0234097