How to Choose a Resolution
Ready to party?
This post isn’t about food or supplements…at least, not specifically. It’s about how you can think intuitively, find alignment, and set intentions that are fruitful for years to come. I’m talking about New Year’s resolutions, but in reality these principles can be used any time you set goals (which is more than once a year!).
To get in the right mindset for making your resolutions, think about ones you’ve made in the past. Which ones have been successful? Which ones were never actualized? Are there any that you regret?
Weight loss makes up about 38% of New Year’s resolutions, which is interesting when you consider that less than 5% of weight loss attempts are successful. Many people (close to 50%) resolve to improve themselves in other areas (education, relationships, self love), and close to a third resolve to improve financial health.
And get this: if you’re over 50, you’re only 15% likely to achieve your goal. Younger folks (age 20-29) enjoy a 39% success rate.
Why is that?
In my opinion, it comes down to mindlessness. To illustrate this, I’m going to use driving a car as an example. When you get in the car to go somewhere you’ve been many times before, it is easy to zone out and drive without being mindful of what roads you are taking. In contrast, when you drive somewhere new, you have to pay attention to where you drive so that you can get there in a timely fashion.
Most older adults make resolutions that are similar or identical to ones they’ve made before: lose weight, pay off debt, save money, etc. When these resolutions are attempted again and again, the actions related to them can become mindless. An example of this is if you meant to do an errand on the way home, but instead zoned out while driving and arrived home without remembering your errand.
In contrast, younger folks have had fewer years to make repetitive resolutions, and therefor have more potential for mindfulness when pursuing their goals. Younger people aren’t always mindful…the success rate is still only 39%. Everyone has opportunity to become more mindful in their actions.
So rather than jump on the bandwagon of the pursuit of thinness, or fitness, or detox, or a new, better you, I’d like for you to do a little mindfulness exercise with me. This will help you identify what you truly want to achieve next year.
Take a blank piece of paper (napkin, journal, printer paper, whatever) and a pen. While you read the statements below, write anything that comes to mind. Don’t erase anything! It is important that everything that runs through your conscious thought is able to be present on the paper so you can see it later.
First, consider that you already have everything you need to be who you want to be. Your abilities and achievements will be built on your existing strength. How have you been persistent in the past? How are you resilient now? Write it down.
If you find a bit of peace with that concept, then consider what you would do if you weren’t afraid of what anyone else thought of you? If you allowed yourself to act in alignment with your true desires? Write it down.
Finally, begin to think in present-tense. “You are enough,” rather than “you will be, if.” How would you change if you accepted yourself as you are now? How would you remain the same if you accepted yourself as you are now? Write it down.
Now that you’ve completed the mindfulness exercise, look down at your paper and read what you’ve written. These are currently your most cherished values. These are your intentions.
If you are an artistic soul, or someone who has a lot of practice setting intentions, this piece of paper is all you need. You can keep it in your wallet, frame it, take a picture and set it as your phone background, have a ceremony with it, or write the intentions down in your journal.
However, if you are an analyst type, love to make lists, or feel that you need more definition to your intentions, you can make your goals SMART!
S - Your goal should be specific. If you can’t define it, then you won’t know when/if you’ve achieved it. “Get healthy,” “build better finances,” or “be smarter” are goals that are too vague. Specific goals include “eat more cruciferous veggies,” “go to a yoga class twice a week,” “make a monthly budget,” or “write letters to my friends and family.”
M - It must be easily measurable. A measurable health marker is your HDL cholesterol number, the number of ounces of water you drink, or how many minutes you exercise. For education, it could be the number of courses you enroll in or how many applications you send. For finances, the number of dollars saved or invested is a measurable goal. If you can measure it, you’ll definitely know whether you’ve reached your goal.
A - Your goal has to be attainable. This means it is challenging, but doable. Losing 50 lbs in 3 months, or even a year, is unrealistic for most people. So is getting a full scholarship, making a million dollars, or finding 5 new real friends. For this part of goal setting, be a little bit critical. Think about all the things that could go wrong and anticipate how they will set you back. Then reassess where you are currently and choose a goal that’s just a bit further.
R - It needs to be relevant. To you, to your other goals, and to anyone else who may be involved. Is it the right time for you to pursue this goal? If not now, when? Choose to focus on goals that are more attainable because they are relevant to your overall life and to the lives of others.
T - Your goal has to be definable by time. For example, you may set a goal to exercise 3 times per week. How long are you planning to do that? “Forever” isn’t realistic, so choose a time-specific goal. “3 times per week for 1 month,” and then reassess? Or “3 times per week for 3 months” if you’ve done it before and know it is attainable. Long-term goals like “save $1000" could be broken into smaller goals like “save $200 per month for 5 months.” If you want to read a lot of books this year, you could plan for “2 books per month for 12 months.”
Ok, now take a look at your page. In what ways to your goals seem more achievable? Do you feel more confident in your goals? Repeat this process as often as you want, and you will soon find that you can easily determine whether a goal is likely to be successful.
May 2019 be in your favor!