New Year's resolutions are not just some gimicky thing that everyone does at the beginning of the year to say they had a plan... and then failed 2 months later. New Year's resolutions are an opportunity to practice goal setting. I know that when I switched my New Year's resolutions from lofty, vague, unimaginative goals to specific, meaningful ones that I actually started to follow through with them.
It started in the New Year of 2015 when another one of my family members was diagnosed with breast cancer. I felt like making yet another New Year's resolution where I vowed to change my eating habits and get a Victoria Secret Model's body before my birthday in June - was a bit ridiculous. I had made that kind of resolution for so many years and it hardly ever worked, which was really discouraging.
If the point of making a New Year's resolution is to improve the life you are living that year, then why not seek that out in the betterment of the world? So in January of 2015 I made the New Year's resolution to support a charity for the whole year. I was working a part time job at a deli and saving for college but I figured a few things here and there was enough. 3 months later I was running a fundraiser out of my favourite bar. I was sharing the charity's facebook posts and helping to promote their main fundraising event by talking to my friends about it. By the end of 2015 I actually felt like I had accomplished something and it gave me a new appreciation for proper goal setting.
Now that I have sufficiently humble-bragged my way into an awesome segue, let's get down to the nitty-gritty of goal setting. In a study published in Health Education Quarterly they posited that "setting specific difficult goals leads to higher performance when compared with no goals or vague, non-quantitative goals, such as 'do your best'". So when you are choosing your New Year's resolutions or setting any kind of goal at any time, the difficulty and the specificity of the goal will actually increase your chances of accomplishing said goal. Instead of "I'm going to go to the gym this year" which is incredibly vague, try "I'm going to go the gym at least twice a week, for 30-60 minutes to lose weight/improve muscle definition/bulk up/improve posture". The clearer you make the target, the easier it will be to hit.
For those of you looking to improve your eating habits this year, effective goal setting can be an incredibly useful tool for you. In a review published in Journal of the American Dietetic Association they suggest that instead of approaching diet changes in a knowledge based way - ie. simply educating people on good and bad dietary choices - that we should look at diet changes in terms of behaviours. What they have observed is when people focus on 1 more of their personal, behavioural, or environmental factors that influence their eating habits and implement a 4-stage goal-setting strategy that they are more likely to be successful at achieving their desired dietary change. For those of you wondering, the 4 step process is as follows:
1. Recognizing a need for change;
2. Establishing a goal;
3. Adopting a goal-directed activity and self-monitoring it;
4. and self-rewarding goal attainment.
It doesn't have to be health related either
Health and fitness blogger say WHAAT?
Yes, my friends - your New Year's resolution does not have to be health related. Although around 70% of all NYR are somehow related to health, if you are not ready to make a commitment to that just yet, or you are happy with your health, then goal setting in other areas of your life is amazing as well. With that said I leave you with this quote.
This year my New Year's resolution is to make 4 goals for every month. Each goal has to fit into the 4 categories of family, financial, health, and fun. I recognized that as my life gets busier and busier with work that I don't want to forget about the things that exist outside work. By creating goals every month in these four categories I will have a monthly check-in to make sure that every aspect of my life is in a healthy balance.
Do something good for yourself this year and try effective goal setting. It could make this year the year you really do stick to your New Year's resolution!
Riri's Discoveries blog documents Riri's most recent research, her travel adventures, and her personal fitness journey.