Has getting fit been your New Year’s resolution for the last five years? Ready to (finally) turn your good intentions into reality? Make 2019 your best year yet with this go-to guide.
It’s January and holiday mode is over (or if not, lucky you!) and you’re full of good intentions on being fitter, healthier, happier and more productive in 2019. You tell yourself you’re going to commit to a daily yoga practice, eat more greens and finally clear that clutter in the spare room.
But if this year is anything like the previous ones, by February your yoga practice will be sporadic at best and that clutter will still be gathering dust in the spare room. Sticking to goals isn’t easy, but with some persistence and a few helpful hacks from a positive psychologist, we’re confident you can turn those resolutions into reality.
According to positive psychologist Dr Tim Sharp, it’s all about getting clear on goals that are right for you and not what you think other people want for you. Then it’s about drilling down…
Let’s talk about the ‘s’ word
Specific. Nitty gritty. The bottom line. Whichever way you describe it, it’s the most important step in setting goals and achieving any resolution, according to Dr Sharp.
“Make your resolution specific,” he says. “Define it in as much detail as possible and make it realistic.”
Something to consider is setting what are called SMART goals, and then planning the steps you need to take to put your plan into action. A SMART goal is something that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and has a Timeframe. Writing your goals down and anticipating potential barriers to them as well as possible solutions may also assist you in staying on track. In other words, prepare to lose track! You are human, after all.
Kick excuses to the curb
“Different things will work for different people but one of the common themes I’ve observed working with thousands of clients over the years is that those who are successful make their priorities non-negotiable,” says Dr Sharp.
So, whether that resolution is to eat more leafy greens, practice meditation, go to the gym more regularly or join an art class, Dr Sharp says it’s essential to “lock it in your calendar and make it something you just do, without question”.
That said, don’t think achieving goals will come easy. Dr Sharp advises that forming new habits takes commitment as well as restraint. It will “require saying ‘no’ to other activities and tasks, even if they seem attractive,” he says.
Staying on track
Dr Sharp says people fail to stick to their resolutions for a multitude of reasons, but the big one is that “they expect too much too quickly, and so give up too easily.”
“People often don’t identify and prioritise what’s really important, and then focus on and protect these goals rigorously,” he says. “Numerous life distractions take over and instead of doing what will help them succeed they’re scrolling endlessly through social media or binge-watching Netflix.”
Moral of the story? Stop doing things that are taking your time away from achieving your resolutions. “I often say that my “not to-do” list is just as important as my “to-do” list,” he adds.
Go you good thing
Getting started is the hardest part, right? But like anything, Dr Sharp says the hard work will be worth it.
“Have realistic expectations and regular rewards,” he explains. “Expect setbacks and be kind to yourself when you stumble. That way you can get back up as quickly as possible and refocus.”
So go on, make that resolution, make it a priority and remember to “break goals down into small, manageable chunks because slow, steady progress will almost always win over rapid, risky gains,” says Dr Sharp.