Be honest with yourself. You’re not very good at making New Year’s Resolutions stick. Sure, you can brainstorm with the best of them and create a list a mile long itemized with ways you want to improve in the next 12 months. But somewhere between writing these goals down and achieving them, something always goes wrong.
Before you start to feel down on yourself, understand that this isn’t a unique problem. You’re not the only one to have a dismal track record. Women around the world struggle with their goals, too. About 80 percent of resolutions fail, according to a survey completed by U.S. News. Though the nation’s goals run the gamut of ambition — ranging from health-related aspirations to habit-breaking promises — they rarely ever succeed.
Your enthusiasm on January 1 faces terrible odds, but you aren’t doomed to repeating fate. If you’re tired of seeing the face of a failure in the mirror, it’s time to understand why these resolutions aren’t working. Let’s work through the most common mistakes when setting goals, so you know what to avoid when making yours.
Mistake #1: You Set Vague Goals
Losing weight, eating better, saving money — these are all popular resolutions set by women like you at the beginning of every year. They sound like sensible goals after overindulging during the holidays, but they’re doomed from the start. None of them suggest a specified outcome that you want, and none of them are quantified by pounds, diet, or dollars — yet.
The trick to starting your resolution off on the right foot, no matter what it is, is to define your goals in measurable terms and actionable behavior. Complement “losing weight” with specific pounds, as well as a step-by-step guide to losing them. Expert goal-setters suggest using the S.M.A.R.T. method to ensure your goal is achievable.
Mistake #2: You Aren’t Realistic
You want to set a goal that’s challenging but be reasonable. Though you may want to lose 50 pounds in as many days, it’s simply not possible or healthy to do so. Be considerate of your body and mental well-being when you establish the aim and timeline of your goals.
If you don’t, it’s easy to feel disheartened when you can’t meet these expectations, regardless of how unrealistic they may be. As soon as you feel disappointed in yourself, it’s easy for these negative emotions to fester until they sabotage your ability to keep working away at your goal.
Mistake #3: You Don’t Have The Right Support Network
You’re strong, independent, and confident, but that doesn’t mean you can’t lean on others for help. No woman should be an island, so don’t let pride prevent you from trusting others with your resolutions. They can provide the encouragement you need to reach your goals.
Telling friends and family is a good way to start. If losing weight is truly your goal for the year, tell the people you’re likely going to eat with the most. It should stop them from offering you sweet treats you’ll find hard ignoring. They may even be willing to eat the same healthy meals in solidarity.
Don’t be surprised if your partner, kids, or friends aren’t interested in another salad for dinner. You can find alternative means for support in online communities frequented by women just like you. These message boards are a great way to commiserate over shared experiences and urge each other on. There are also a ton of weight loss apps that help you engage with others while tracking your progress if you prefer to browse on your iPhone.
Mistake #4: You Don’t Celebrate The Small Things
With your eyes on the grand prize, you can forget about the little victories on the road towards your goal. Don’t let them be eclipsed by the bigger picture. Take the time to celebrate these small achievements. It breaks down an otherwise daunting objective into smaller, easier tasks, and the thought that something fun is waiting for you at each stage can encourage you to keep going when things get tough.
Let’s say you’ve visited the gym every second day for a full month. It doesn’t matter if that translates into pounds or inches lost, you should be proud of your dedication. Mark the occasion with something that inspires you to keep going.
If you’ve been waiting to order a new carbon fiber iPhone 7 skin, wait to get the sickest iPhone 7 ever until you’ve managed to hit this achievement. Maybe you’ve been wanting to see the new Thor: Ragnarok in theaters — for the plot, of course, not Chris Helmsworth. Buy a ticket once you’ve reached the first phase of your resolution. Not interested in either of these “treats”? It doesn’t matter exactly what you treat yourself to if it’s something that will encourage you to meet the next step in your goal.
If you expect to be apart of the 20 percent of goal-setters who actually achieve their resolutions, you have to break from tradition. Stop yourself from making these mistakes and transform the way you set this year’s goals. A little change in perspective can help make a success story out of your ambitions.