Did you know that 40 to 45% of American adults make at least one resolution each year?
Among the top New Year’s resolutions are ones about weight loss, exercise, and quitting smoking.
But 25% of people abandon their resolution before the first week is up and only 46% maintain their resolution after 6 months.
While a lot of people who make New Year’s resolutions do break them, research published in the Journal of Clinical Psychology shows that making resolutions is useful. People who explicitly make resolutions are 10 times more likely to attain their goals than people who don’t explicitly make resolutions.
So if you’ve made resolutions, great! If not, don’t worry, you can set goals for yourself any time of the year.
I don’t usually make New Year’s resolutions but I do set myself a new goal to focus on every semester. I’ve learned that the best way to ensure you reach your goals is to make them SMART:
What is a SMART goal?
Specific: don’t make your goal too general. Instead of saying ‘get in better shape’, say ‘exercise more’.
Measurable: how will you know if you have reached your goal? How many minutes exercise do you want to be doing? How often to you want to exercise? How far do you want to run?
Attainable: don’t waste your time with impossible goals. If you work 60 hours a week and haven’t exercised since middle school gym class, don’t think you are going to go from zero to Ironman overnight.
Rewarding: make sure you have a reason to set this goal, otherwise you won’t be motivated. What will exercising more bring you? Long term health can be your reward. So can feeling better about yourself, having more energy, or enjoying yourself.
Time-Framed: set a deadline and mini deadlines. If exercise is your goal, you could aim for including 10 minutes three times a week for January, 10 minutes five times a week for February, increasing to 20 minutes five times a week for March, and working up to 30 minutes five times a week for the rest of the year.
So here are a couple of my goals for the coming semester:
- Do resistance training at least once week. I’ve been really good at getting good cardio exercise, thanks to the gym in my building and the nice weather but I’ve been lazy when it comes to strength training. So my plan is to take Mondays off from cardio and focus on weights and playing with the strange balls in the gym
- Write more. I’ve really been enjoying writing this blog. I have a million ideas of things to write about but since I only do one post a week I have to choose. So my plan is to come up with a tentative blog topic schedule in January and start writing a bunch of posts in advance. Once I have about 10 posts stored up, I’ll start posting twice a week – my goal is two posts a week by end of February.
- Meet more people. Living in a new city and working from home, I really don’t know many people. So I’ve done a little research and found a couple of “clubs” to join. I’ll let you know how it goes!