Now that we’ve ticked over into the New Year, most of us have already established their 2018 New Years Resolutions. A quick look on finder.com.au shows that more than half of the Australians surveyed are all looking to make changes to their Health and Fitness as part of their New Years Resolutions:
Furthermore, according to the science journal The Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, roughly 55% of New Years Resolutions were health related, such as exercising more, eating healthier and getting out of financial debt.
This time every year, I discuss with our parents and students at JAI Martial Arts the idea of setting GOALS rather than Resolutions. The resolution to lose weight, exercise more and be healthier (assuming these 3 are included in the top of the 54% Health and Fitness voters) would be met with the individual rushing to some of the following ‘solutions’ – new fitness clothing/shoes for the ‘year ahead’, technology that will measure your steps, calories burned, workouts etc, and finally, gym memberships that will lock you in for the long term because it’s cheaper and because…well…you’re definitely going to stick with it! While in hindsight the intentions are good, for the majority of people these are the reasons why next year Health and Fitness will again be their New Years Resolution (maybe even the exact same resolution!) as they find themselves in the same place, if not worse. According to a study conducted by the University of Scranton, just 8% of people achieve their New Years resolutions, while around 80% fail according to US clinical psychologist Joseph Luciani.
So what do we do? Are we destined for failure? As the clock ticks over and we see the New Year as a blank page, is there really nothing we can do to better ourselves? The key is to be S.M.A.R.T.
Take one of the most played sports in the world – Football (or soccer depending on how much of a fan you are). Players start with the ball at the half way line, standing in between their own goal, and the goal they need to kick the ball into. Players know the ‘plan’ to get the ball up the field, it typically involves keeping the ball and themselves away from the defenders, staying in the field of play and not out of bounds, and kicking the ball into the net away from the goalkeepers reach. As simplistic as this analogy is, it shows how planning the path is crucial to achieving your goal.
Let’s further discuss the GOAL of Health and Fitness with SMART planning:
SPECIFIC: Rather than saying I want to lose weight, be specific – I want to improve my health and wellbeing by drinking more water, increasing my intake of fruit, vegetables, salads and lean protein and limiting (or getting rid of) my intake of refined sugars every day. I also want to be more active and participate in 30 minutes of moderate exercise each day.
MEASURABLE: In 2 months (mark that date in your diary) I will lose 2kgs by slowly increasing my activity level – walking short distances, increasing to long distances, moving on to class based fitness and structured exercise programs).
ATTAINABLE: I will gradually reduce my cravings each week (soft drinks, alcohol, sweet treats etc) with the end result of eliminating my consumption or ‘reliance’. By slowly limiting and reducing my intake I will have a better chance at succeeding.
RELEVANT: I will improve my lifestyle by making conscious decisions about my diet and exercise. I will go out more as I live a healthy active lifestyle, and when dining out I will make appropriate food decisions at every meal.
TIME ORIENTATED: In 2 months I will lose 2kgs, by 4 months I will lose a total of 5kgs.
This is a simple example of how the SMART approach to planning can help you achieve your New Years Goal. While setbacks are common, success doesn’t come without the odd hurdle. Looking at it as a learning curve rather than a goal killer, the setbacks allow us to look at our goal and make the appropriate changes if need be – perhaps we aren’t ready to cut soft drinks out altogether, BUT we can reduce the craving by cutting out 1 or 2 cans each week, and maybe if we’re lucky we’ll cut out even more without noticing.
Top 5 Tips to Achieving your Goals:
- Start whenever. Just because its January 1st it doesn’t mean you have to start NOW. You can set yourself smaller goals throughout the year.
- Follow the SMART principles. Resolutions don’t tend to have a structured thought out process. Realistic Goals that can be measured, monitored and amended are necessary.
- Don’t be hard on yourself. If you’re not reaching your timeline of success, or you give in to your cravings, so what! The extra negativity or unrealistic expectations are goal killers! Re asses the goal and make changes.
- Don’t let the insta-fit people on social media ruin your goals. They are who they are from a lot of exercise, calorie deficits and its happened over a period of time. Their workout plans and nutritional intake might inspire or make you insta-jealous, but in most instances it’s not for you. When in doubt get sound advice that suits you, your body type and your work/life schedule.
- Enjoy the process. If you don’t, chances are you won’t stick with the Goal and you will fail.
Make 2018 YOUR year as you map out your GOALS to success with planning, resilience and determination.