How To Set New Year’s Resolutions You Can Actually Accomplish
Tips and tricks to make this the year you stick to your healthy goals.
As the year comes to a close, you’re probably thinking ahead to what you want to achieve. The sad reality: Approximately 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February according to U.S. News & World Report. But you don’t have to become part of that statistic. Up your odds of resolution success by taking the below steps:
Set SMART goals
Think of a resolution you’d like to tackle. Is it specific? Do you have a plan for how you’ll achieve it? For instance, although wanting to exercise regularly is a worthy goal, unless you have a plan in place, it’s not likely to happen.
Using the acronym “SMART” in your goal setting can help you come up with a strategy for achieving it.
|Specific||“I want to start running.”|
|Measurable||“I’ll run 3 times per week.”|
|Achievable||“I can sign up for a 5K and walk it if I need to.”|
|Relevant||“My provider recommended that I add more physical activity to my life.”|
|Time-bound||“I’ll find a 5K in April, so I’ll have at least 3 months to train for it.”|
Taking the time to go through the letters in “SMART” can help you distill exactly what you want to accomplish – and even better – how you’ll get there.
When January 1st hits, you may feel motivated to create a “new you” and go all out. Maybe you’ll go out and run three miles straight, cut out dairy or nix your daily coffee run. That surge of motivation is great, but consider starting with small, simple steps. If you haven’t exercised for the past year, just putting on your sneakers and running for 10 minutes is a big deal. If you decide you want to meditate, start with a two-minute meditation rather than trying to “om” your way through a full half-hour. You’re not copping out. You’re creating a strong foundation to build on. Plus, research shows these small wins cause our brains to release dopamine (a neurotransmitter that drives us to repeat pleasurable experiences) bolstering our will to stick with it.
No matter how motivated you are to make a change, knowing how you respond to expectations can help you accomplish your resolutions. In Gretchen Rubin’s book, The Four Tendencies, she explains four personality types:
Obligers: People who meet outer expectations, like work deadlines, but not goals they set for themselves.
Upholders: These people take both outer and inner expectations seriously.
Questioners: They tend to resist outer expectations until they’re sure they’re worthy of doing. They can take a long time to make decisions because they like to research all options.
Rebels: They have a tendency to resist both outer and inner expectations. No one can tell them what to do.
Knowing which category you fall into can help you reach your goals. For example, if you’re an Obliger, accountability is key, so you might want to sign up for an exercise class or join a team. Meanwhile, if you’re a Questioner, you might want to post a list of all of the reasons your goal is worthy to stay motivated.
Check in on your goal
Once you know what your resolution is, and you have a plan in place to accomplish it, keep it on your mind. Go through your new calendar now and mark off a few days to periodically assess how you’re doing. Seeing a note on your calendar or a pop up on your phone about your New Year’s resolution may help you pause and reflect on whether your plan is working. Not so well? The reminders give you an opportunity to make adjustments.
Adjust if necessary
If you botched your resolution within the first few weeks of the new year, that’s OK. Instead of throwing in the towel, figure out how you can make some tweaks to get back on track.
Choose a “Word of the Year”
If making a New Year’s Resolutions isn’t your thing, consider choosing a word of the year. Pick one thing you’d like to focus on this year and use a specific word to conjure that idea. If you want to develop stronger relationships, your word may be “connect.” If you want to have more enjoyment in your life, you may choose the word, “laughter.” Instead of a specific goal, you’ll have a guiding theme or motto for the year.
Recognize this year’s accomplishments
Before you dive into next year’s goals, take time to reflect on the good habits you’ve already established. No matter where you are with your health goals, you undoubtedly achieved a few things last year that make you feel proud. Write them down or just sit and enjoy that feeling of accomplishment. Head into the new year feeling good about changes you’ve made this year (like joining Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation™).
What are you proud of accomplishing last year and what’s on tap for the upcoming year? Post to our Commitment Wall and tell us how you plan to accomplish your goals in our discussion or on Facebook. If you found this post helpful, consider sharing it with a friend on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #healthynurse.
Have you joined the Healthy Nurse, Healthy Nation (HNHN) yet? Sign up today!
Luciani, J. (2015, December 29). Why 80 percent of new year's resolutions fail. Retrieved October 18, 2017.
SMART Goals: How to make your goals achievable. (n.d.). Retrieved October 18, 2017.
Marchese, L. (n.d.). Across the board. Retrieved October 18, 2017. (Editor's note, as of 3/29/22 this source was no longer retrievable.)
Ryback, R. (2016, October 03). The science of accomplishing your goals. Retrieved October 18, 2017.