Want to Succeed at Your New Year’s Resolutions?
Today it is my pleasure to have my friend and colleague, Susan Reynolds, MFT share 5 critical keys to help you succeed at your New Year’s Resolutions. You will be inspired by her personal story of success, and her practical tips.
Hello, it is a pleasure to be a Guest Blogger on Kim’s blog today. What’s my credibility? I’m a Marriage and Family Therapist, I help people accomplish goals – it’s what I do. On a personal level, the last goal I set was to lose 73 pounds. It took 2 years, 6 months and 21 days. I met my goal last month. Woohoo! Well worth the effort!
A New Year can mean a New Start or for that matter, any day can be your New Start
Follow these 5 strategies to boost your ability to meet your goals:
1. Set reasonable & measurable goals
It is simply unkind and counter-productive to set unreasonable goals for yourself. It becomes self-shaming and actually erodes your ability to succeed. If you want to accomplish really big goals, break them down into a series of measureable accomplishments.
Pursue them in sequence, with celebrations and rewards for each milestone. Each of these accomplishments must be broken down into a series of steps that you can & will actually be able to do. For 2017, one of the new popular goals is “to become a better person.” This is, in my opinion, a wonderful response to whatever the year 2016 might have meant to you, but it is very vague.
In order to actually accomplish something like this, you will need to define for yourself what “better people” do. Perhaps you will consider: volunteer work, charitable contributions, staying in touch with friends, recycling, showing kindness towards strangers, or investing in your own spiritual growth. Once you define a goal area, you will need to set a specific target, for example: 20 hours of volunteer work, giving $100, or reaching out to 2 different friends each week.
2. Now that you have a clear goal, reflect on your goal
Identify the behaviors that you will need to start and the behaviors that you will need to stop, in order to reach your goal. I would recommend that you make a list of each. You will need to start behaviors that keep you focused and motivated, like saying your goal out loud every morning, praying for strength, or studying examples of other people who have succeeded at similar goals.
When I was working on my weight loss goal recently, I often read inspiring stories about other people who had achieved similar weight loss goals. I committed to an exercise and eating program. I also set aside more time each day for shopping and meal preparation because eating healthy takes me more time and effort than eating conveniently.
There will also be behaviors that you need to stop in order to succeed at your goal. You will want to identify them and create a strategy to change them. You may identify things that distract you, waste your time, exhaust you, or mislead you. It can be very difficult to make changes in these areas but the payoff will be significant. In order to succeed at my weight loss goal, I had to stop snacking in front of the TV late at night and stop eating huge amounts of chocolate during every holiday.
3. You have your goal and you’ve made a behavior plan, now you need to
Identify and utilize your personality traits which will help you reach your goal. This is definitely a “use your powers for good and not evil” kind of thing. You will have to use whatever you actually have. So, do some introspection and figure out what your strengths are. Some possible strengths are: optimism, perseverance, stubbornness, humor, faith or honesty.
I can be ridiculously stubborn, so I use this trait in my favor. When I am working on a goal, I make a promise or two to myself and I use my superpower of stubbornness to help me. Last summer I had a week to work on a writing project. I told myself that until I accomplished my daily goal, I couldn’t go for a walk. The trick was that I was on vacation at the ocean and all I wanted to do was walk on the beach. Each day, I stubbornly accomplished my goal so that I could get to the beach as long before sunset as possible. I also used my strength of stubbornness to help with my weight loss goal. I set one rule for myself and continued to follow that one rule even if I was doing everything else wrong. By sticking to one rule, I continued to know that I was in a process and that I hadn’t completely failed. This sense of still being “in it,” helped me to regain momentum each time I stumbled. Find a way to get one of your strengths working for you.
4. You’ve got a goal, a behavior plan, and a plan to use your own strengths
Now Identify what you will need from your community. I need lots of help, really, I think we all do. To lose weight, I used the expertise of a trainer, a nutritional plan, a massage therapist, a friendly guy who works in the produce section of my local grocery store, my girls’ group, wonderful friends and my super supportive husband (he grilled lots of salmon and believed me when I said that I couldn’t be successful with amazing cheese or chocolate in the house).
I have some new goals now and am so excited because a very smart & successful woman has agreed to be in a mentoring/challenging group with me. We start next week! Get some resources. Ask around your friend group and your community. More is more. Don’t try to go it with less. Whether your resources are online or real-time, you will need some support to reach your goal.
5. Celebrate each good choice you make
We typically have goals because we have previously made some poor or limiting choices. Making a wise choice is a really big deal. Celebrate! Time passes for all of us. Either you are using time to get where you want to go, or you aren’t. Every time you choose wisely, you are retraining your brain to be wiser. Build up habits of wise choices. Wise choices get easier as we repeat them. Practice wise living.
When you fall, get back up again. Accomplishing goals is more about resiliency than perfection. After I had lost over 50 pounds, I got distracted and gained 15 pounds over the holidays in 2015, that was really discouraging. I had to forgive myself and get back in the groove of exercise and wise choices. I had to focus on the present day and not on the past disaster. 2 years, 6 months, and 21 days, was worth it!
Celebrate every day as you invest in your future!
Thanks so much Susan for sharing your wisdom with us! You are an inspiration! You can visit Susan on Facebook.
I’d love you to share your input. What stood out to you? What goals are you working on? Which of Susan’s tips can help you right now?
Please leave your comments below and share on social media or via e-mail with others who might benefit!