By Adam MacDougall, News.com.au
IF YOU started the year with lofty goals about losing weight or giving up drinking, you’re probably staring down the end of January with regret. Here’s how to get back on track.
LET’S be totally honest with each other for a moment. How are your New Year’s resolutions going? Actually, probably best if you don’t answer that. I’ve got a pretty good feeling I know exactly what you’re going to say.
If your plans for a new you have started to go off the rails, you’re not alone. While up to 90 per cent of Australians welcome the new year with resolutions — whether it’s to lose weight, drink less, eat better or take up a new hobby — just 8 per cent of us actually stick to them.
As we find ourselves powering toward the end of January, the overwhelming majority of us have either abandoned our New Year’s Eve promises, or are in the process of doing so. In fact, an American study found that more than 80 per cent of us will have ditched our new goals by just the second week of February.
But it’s definitely not too late to get back on track.
When it comes to goal-setting, the brain is the most important muscle we have. Learning to tap into the brain and use it to our benefit, rather than having to rely on willpower and self-discipline alone, is the key to reaching our goals.
Luckily, there are some super simple ways to do that. And following the steps below should ensure you not only meet your goals, but obliterate them.
If you want to change any type of behaviour, you need to be held accountable — and not just to yourself.
Because let’s be honest, if nobody is watching you, you’re far more likely to reach for the smokes, ditch the gym or tuck into that chocolate biscuit. But once your goals are shared in public — whether it’s with your mates, your family or your colleagues — it becomes real.
It’s called social expectation and some studies find your chances of success increasing by up to 65 per cent.
The power of social support can be monumental. So get sharing.
DON’T JUST SET GOALS, SET SMART GOALS
There are goals, and then there are SMART goals — and the latter have a much better chance of becoming reality.
The SMART goal system (it stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound) is all about setting achievable goals, and giving yourself a strict time frame to complete them.
Promising yourself you’ll go from having occasionally walked past a gym to an Olympic gold medal in weightlifting within six months is never going to happen. But setting a goal of losing 5kg over 12 weeks is a specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound resolution, and so one you are far more likely to achieve.
EMBRACE THE ‘WHY’
There is a reason sticking to these resolutions is so hard, and that’s because it feels so much better to ignore them. In the early stages, exercise doesn’t feel good, skipping the chocolate cake is no fun, and throwing away the cigarettes is hard.
But you can reframe that decision to focus less on what you’re missing out on, and more on what you’re gaining in return. In other words, embrace the “why”.
Why do you want to make these changes? Is it to look better? Live longer? Save money? Have more energy? Whatever the reason, make that the focus and you’ll feel the positives over the negatives.
For me, health and fitness is about being a better dad. I want to have the energy to come home from a long day at work and play with my kids, or take them to the park or the beach.
Sure, it would be easier to simply stay in bed — and there are plenty of days I feel like doing exactly that — but being able to get active with my kids is all the motivation I need to take that early-morning run or make a healthier choice on the cafe menu.
That’s my “why”. The question is, what’s yours?
Adam MacDougall is managed exclusively by The Fordham Company.