Setting healthy resolutions
WARNING: more than half of the goals we write down in that small special agenda of ours are probably not going to be checked off.
Not to be a Debbie Downer here, but if your agenda looks something like this:
- Exercise more
- Eat healthier
- Try something new
- Work harder
- Travel to 10 countries
- Quit drinking
You are probably not the only one, but you are also probably having a hard time sticking to them. Now, this has nothing to do with your capacity or will to actually achieve what’s on your checklist, but there are ways to prepare ourselves for healthy resolutions that are built to last.
Honestly, the word resolution itself is so tied up with the idea of creating “New Year’s Resolutions” that the pressure of listing and achieving them becomes ten times harder. The end of the year doesn’t need to mean: the new year, new me extravaganza (dilemma).
Picture this. It’s the end of the year. You’ve been through a lot of good moments, and bad moments. You’ve definitely learned a ton as well. You have this mixture of excitement and fear within you. You want to start doing everything right now. You would like to do it all right, this time around. You just want to flip over that chaotic chapter. You want to start fresh.
Now, of course with this kind of pressure, we may tend to set unrealistic expectations (resolutions) that are supposed to be met throughout the year! It’s bound to happen from all those pent-up emotions. We’re not thinking straight; we’re just too fired up and hopeful. This is indeed a good thing, but let’s take a step back and start delving deeper into the why’s and how’s of resolution setting.
Why can’t I seem to hold up my resolutions?
1. It may be because your resolution is based on what someone else (or your community) is telling you to change-
Remember that your resolutions belong to you. Meaning: It’s a personal, intricate plan that you design based on what you see fit for yourself. The moment you start bringing society into the equation and change according to people’s views is the moment you’ll lose that determination to achieve it. There’s a ton of social pressure to become a better version of yourself from the very first day of the year. “New year, new you” becomes the mantra for millions. Therefore, always try to think about what YOU want to change, add, or renew to your life.
2. We struggle to pick realistic goals-
Most of our resolutions tend to be clear-cut goals with two to four words. And although they’re easily understandable, they’re not always realistic. Let’s take the example of “losing weight” as a resolution, since it’s statistically one of the most common ones. Now ask yourself this: which goal is more realistic? Losing 80 pounds or trying to cut down on your constant ordering of fast food? The answer is obvious, trying to reduce a habit you want to change will get you some results instead of stating a massive goal. It also helps to reimagine your goal, in a positive way. Instead of “losing weight” the goal is transformed to “choose healthier meals”. This also breaks down a big goal, to a small (but still impactful) decision.
3. The support we need is not there-
We as humans strive (and have a massive need) for support. We need it in the many ways it comes in. Just remember that even if you can’t find the support you need, you can be your own. It's also important to remember that support can come in ways such as asking for help, reaching out to a friend, or seeking therapy. These needed tactics build you up, and empower you to achieve your goals.
Now, for the good stuff: How can I set healthy resolutions?
Take it one step at a time. Like every other thing in life, this will take time and we need to understand and accept that. Let’s start by asking ourselves these questions, you know, just to get our minds working.
- Are there certain things you wanted to achieve last year that you didn’t get around to? Why was that?
- Which personal areas would you like to work on? Like relationships, friendships, etc.
- Did you discover something new that you would like to explore this year?
- What is a habit you would like to change or add that will make your life better?
This goes without saying but I bet most of you reading this may have had a couple of tough years that perhaps took a toll on your mental health. I mean, same. Maybe your goals now are to simply get back on track from the aftermath that the pandemic has caused. And that’s okay. Remember that your resolutions should revolve around your needs and are of course realistic. Notice that we keep mentioning the world realistic? It actually doesn’t come alone and is part of a whole other strata of meaning. Welcome to SMART goals. Let’s explain and implement.
We won’t lie, the process of explaining SMART goals might seem a bit stretched, but remember again that things take time so be easy on yourself. You’ll eventually get the hang of it, effortlessly! The more specific we are, the easier it will be to set and know when we’ve fulfilled that resolution. Try to be clear as possible.
“I’d like to start working out 2 days a week with the help of a personal trainer because this will make me feel like I have a more balanced life” instead of “Work out more”
If we would like to see change, then measurable results are the best way to go. Some of us have to see pure change right in front of our eyes to simply believe that we’re on the right track. This can help us further determine whether we need to reassess our initial goal if we’re ever off track.
“I’ll try Taking notes on my phone or in my diary to track my process each week. I’ll then compare notes of my written behavior which will definitely reinforce progress.”
Back to the point about having a goal that’s realistic, a fundamental component in setting healthy resolutions is for it to be achievable. The more we try to take smaller, more attainable steps, the more it feels doable.
“I think it’ll be much easier if I try saving 100 pounds each month than having to save up a bunch of money till, I’m 30.”
Now aside from the characteristics of the goal itself, how much relevancy does it offer in comparison to our life? Does it align with our short or long-term objectives? Remember that the importance of our resolutions is based upon what we consider it to be and not what society decides.
“I’m still in college this year so I’d rather focus on how I can graduate rather than who I’m going to marry in 5 years from now.”
The last element for creating healthy resolutions is time-based goals. We should give ourselves enough time to set and achieve our resolutions by breaking them down in smaller intermediate ones. Remember to focus on your small victories, label them as wins, so you could gradually create progress!
“I’ll give myself the freedom of space when writing down my resolutions, maybe a timeframe between 1-3 months should be sufficient, if not I’ll adjust”
Note to self: setting healthy resolutions aren’t always associated with New Years, but for the sake of you, the reader, reading this piece in December, try to take it in with an open heart and implement these new information and techniques in this upcoming year.