Every year ends pretty much the same. We spend all of the holiday season feasting and participating in merriment and then resolve to lost 10 pounds in the New Year. Sound like you?
Or maybe you’re making a resolution to finally write your novel, or spend more time with your kids or spouse, or maybe your resolution is to just be a better person! Do you know that most New Year resolutions fail in the third week of January? Less than 10% of people actually stick to and cross off a resolution. Want to be part of that 10%? We can work together and turn that into 20%!
One of my favorite authors, Jon Acuff, wrote an amazing book called “Finish”. This book is all about finishing what you set out to do. He started by hiring researchers to figure out what similarities might lie between people who reach their goals, and he came up with some interesting findings.
It starts with the way you set your goal/resolution for yourself. Starting too big is almost a surefire way to not reach your goal. It sounds counterintuitive, but Jon suggests that whatever goal you have for yourself for the year, cut it in half. This might not work for every type of goal, but stop for a second and think about what you can realistically achieve in a year. Better yet, break it down and think in terms of quarters or months instead of the year as a whole.
We live in a time of instant gratification and the longer your goal takes to achieve the less likely you are to stick with it, unless you can break it into smaller chunks and complete it one bite at a time. For example, if you want to lose 65 pounds this year, start with a goal of 10. Train yourself to work towards 10 pounds every two months, thats 5 pounds a month and easily trackable and more importantly, easy to accomplish.
Think about times in your past when you’ve failed at something. For some people, failure is motivation, but for most, it’s discouraging. If you set a goal to lose 10 pounds in a month and you only lost 8, would you be proud or discouraged? What if at the beginning of the month you took Jon’s advice and cut that goal to 5. You still did all the same things, and at the end of the month you’ve lost 8 pounds. Do you feel better in the second scenario or the first? Don’t discount the feel-good-factor when it comes to accomplishing your goals! Feeling good about your progress makes you more likely to continue on, and making progress smaller makes it easier to eventually reach your goal.
Second, if you want to stick with a long-term goal, it absolutely has to have some aspect of fun. If you think the best way to get in shape is to sign up to run a marathon but 3 weeks in, you realize you hate to run, that’s probably not going to end up as the route to your fitness. Say, for instance, you instead discover you love kickboxing! Are you going to end up running a marathon? Maybe not, but you might end up in better shape and you’re willing to stick with because it’s fun!
If you’re anything like me, and every year you vow to spend more quality time with your kids, make sure you figure out what makes that quality time fun for both of you. Last year, I made the mistake of promising myself I would take my kids to the park more. Some parents love the park, I’m not sure what’s wired differently in my head, but I hate the park. I just don’t like being there, doesn’t really matter which park. I don’t want to climb the structures and hit my head 14 times, and my children are not content with me just watching them play (which would also be super boring for me).
So this year, I’ve decided that once a month we are going to do some sort of activity that we all enjoy. Maybe a museum or a splash pad, but our quality time is not going to be a form a martyrdom for me because I know that path ends in early March, and I want to spend time with my kids all year.
My last tip for you in creating unbreakable resolutions is to find a buddy. Find someone who is in your trench, wanting the same things and to whom you can stay accountable, or even work together. The hard part of this step is to choose wisely. If your goal is to get in shape and your best friend in the whole world lives off of Doritos and MountainDew (and is 100% content with that) don’t ask him/her to be your accountability buddy. It won’t end well!
Find someone who has similar goals or someone that you connect with but doesn’t tempt you to push your goals to the side. In this crazy military world, sometimes those in-person connections are hard to find if you’re not willing to step out of your comfort zone and make them happen! Find a meetup or local facebook group that caters to your goal and get involved.
I wish you the best in this new year! May your hearts be fuller, your pants be looser, and you and your families happier than ever. If you want to connect with Jon Acuff more and hear his fun ideas, he’s got a couple books, some great email subscription lists, and a very engaging and funny blog. His instagram and Facebook are always on point too!
Are any of these resolution tips new to you? Tell us how you set your goals for the new year!
Posted by Elizabeth Allen, military spouse and NMFA Volunteer