For some, resolutions can be a light exercise that serves as just another fun tradition to take part in during the holiday months. For others, resolutions represent a distinct moment to reorganize, recoup, and revitalize their focus in order to take on the ensuing year with vigor and grace. No matter how you see it, resolutions can be a great opportunity to learn something new about yourself and the the life you choose to lead. We spoke with three professionals in the health and wellness field about how to make your resolutions truly count. Before declaring your own, try asking yourself the following questions, and prepare to fulfill that resolution next year.
What is my overarching goal?
This is not your resolution. The overarching goal is what you aspire to achieve overall. From there, you can formulate resolutions that tie into your goal. Thinking big is necessary here. “Try digging a little deeper than you typically might when making your new year’s resolutions,” says Holly Burton, owner and operator of Walnut Beach Wellness & Boutique. “Connect with yourself and decide what it is that would bring you satisfaction and gratification in your life.” Do you want to be fitter, have better relationships, or be seen as more of a leader? Narrow down what’s most important for you in order to feel the best about yourself.
What am I doing right?
Traditionally, resolutions are promises of improvement, but they don’t always have to be. “When setting a resolution, it’s easy to jump straight to the things in our life [that] we want to be better. Try coming from a different angle and focusing on what is good and what does work”, suggests Burton. “These are invaluable qualities that you don’t want to mess with very much. Perhaps part of your resolution is making sure you give yourself the time to continue doing these positive things,” she adds.
Why is my goal important to me?
The question of ‘why’ should lead your resolution planning. Any resolution without a motivating reason for action lacks a focus. According to performance coach and public speaker Brian Robinson, “Often times we set goals that tend to reflect normal societal ideals, because it’s easy and directly in front of us. Weight loss, for instance, or financial freedom are two prominent goals set by many people each day of every year. Are these goals positive? Yes. Are they worthy? Absolutely. However these goals on their own lack an emotional connection specific to each individual. It is the emotional connection to the goal that will provide the motivation to stay focused and allow you to persevere when reasons for cutting corners emerge.”
Am I being specific enough?
Really dig in here. The incentive to put in the work for your goal is directly tied to how emotionally affected you are by the desire to reach your goal. Dylan Brown, manager of a NYC-based cycling studio elaborates, “Let’s take weight loss for instance. Why does that goal motivate you? Perhaps there are specific health risks that you’re looking to avoid. Perhaps you’ve seen a family member or friend suffer from the conditions of being overweight and it scares you. If so, are you willing to risk suffering the same outcome if you don’t make changes? Maybe your knees are bothering you and that makes playing with your children or grandchildren difficult. If so, are you ok with being less active with them?”
These examples might seem a bit harsh, but they showcase how deep we need to go in order to find real intrinsic motivation that keeps us focused on the task at hand, when putting the work in isn’t ideally convenient.
Is this realistic?
Once the flood gates open it can be easy to list a bunch of inspiring goals for the upcoming year. Why not? It’s a brand new opportunity to go and do! It’s also important to recognize what your limits are. Try not to overbook yourself with tasks. “If part of your resolution is to be healthier or more present in your relationships, for example, setting too many goals regarding finances and travel may or may not detract from your focus on health and relationships,” says Brown. When you break down your resolution into action steps, be sure that you are allowing yourself the time to to put in high quality effort. You’ll enjoy the process so much more! If you’re getting hung up here, revisit the section on your overarching goal and why that’s important to you.
Who can I trust to hold me accountable?
We keep talking about the importance of resolutions needing to be deeply personal, self reflecting and self gratifying—and that’s true. But when striving to accomplish any goal, outside accountability is so important. “Find a friend who will be unapologetically honest with you and trust them with the challenge of accountability,” says Robinson. Be sure you choose someone who is willing to take the interest in meeting with you and discussing your progress regularly.
What’s holding me back?
Sometimes, it’s easier to knock down some obstacles before sprinting down the path of achieving your goals. “I tend to stack my schedule too tight. I love being productive, but what I sacrifice in pursuing productivity all the time is regeneration,” says Brown. “This leads to burnout every so often, which in turn diminishes my productivity. Therefore I’ve scheduled time for self-care and regeneration to combat that hurdle of mine.”
It might not be intuitive to think about your obstacles when goal setting, but it’s very effective. “Take a moment to be honest with yourself,” says Brown. “Often times, reflecting on your own flaws or shortcomings can be the most difficult obstacle of them all. But, once you address them, it will make all other obstacles in front of you seem more manageable.”
What will I do when I reach my goal?
“Start with the end in mind. Figure out how you’ll celebrate your achievement. Or, think about whether there’s a next level to the resolution,” says Robinson. Ideally, you will be making resolutions that will require dedication to a process, and, often times, lots of hard work. Reward yourself in anyway you see fit. Perhaps it’s small rewards for hitting bi-weekly and monthly checkpoints, and a larger reward for sticking with your resolution throughout the year. Think big for the grand prize and make that reward worth working for.