A More Effective Approach to New Years Resolutions That Stick

Are you thinking about New Years Resolutions? I’m actually gonna try to talk you out of it! Get this: 25% of people abandon their resolutions after just ONE WEEK!! The average person makes the same New Years Resolution 10 times WITHOUT success!!! And 60% of people give up on their resolutions by the 6 month mark.

I’m just gonna go ahead and say that statistically speaking, New Years Resolutions aren’t the best way to set goals. But screw statistics – lets look at our own behavior! I can say that I have NOT achieved the majority of my New Years Resolutions. I have incredible intentions but most of the time I fall short. What about you? Have you made them in the past? Have they worked for you?

One of the big issues I have with New Years Resolutions is the time frame. When you set a goal in January that you have a full year to achieve, there is no sense of urgency. Let’s say the goal is to lose weight. Well who cares if you screw up your diet a few dozen times in January? You know you still have the rest of the year to pull it together, right?

I think goals are SUPER important but I think we tend to make major mistakes when we put them together. Here are some of the mistakes I’ve made in the past and I think they’re pretty common:

  • The time frame is too long – no sense of urgency
  • We set too many goals, making it hard to focus on achieving any one (He who chases two rabbits catches neither, right?)
  • We don’t hold ourselves accountable for our progress
  • We aren’t specific enough
  • We set them and forget them

I don’t know about you, but I love the start of a new year. I love the sense of potential and opportunity – I love the empowering feeling that I can make anything happen. I love knowing that when I look back after another year, I might have totally transformed my life, my relationships, my health, my finances and much more! Or, on the flip side, we could look back and feel frustrated that we haven’t achieved our goals and we’re at the same place we were in a year ago. No bueno. I don’t want that and I don’t want that for you. So I’ve put together a different type of goal setting paradigm that I wanted to share with you so you can set some New Years Resolutions that stick!!

  • Set 12-week goals instead of 12-month goals. This automatically creates a higher sense of urgency and allows you to gauge your progress more easily.
  • Break your 12-week goals down into bite size parts. I like to think of it this way: To achieve this goal in 12-weeks, this is what I’ll have to accomplish in month 1, in month 2 and in month 3.
  • Create weekly targets. Break down your monthly tasks into weekly objectives.
  • Every morning, establish ONE action step you will take to move your towards your weekly objective.
  • Limit your focus. I recommend creating a small number of goals. Consider taking on one financial goal, one career goal, one relationship goal and one health goal. Your categories might look different but I absolutely recommend limiting your goals to 3-4 per 12-week period. And fewer is even better!!!
  • Write them down. Keep them in multiple places.
  • Read your goals every day. Ensure that your mind is focused on what you’re going after.

So here is an example of a 12-week goal and how you might break it down. Let’s say the goal is to lose 20 pounds in 12 weeks. I might break it down like this:

  • Month one: Lose 8 lbs
    • Week 1 target: Write my food intake down every day
    • Week 2 target: Journal to learn which foods increase hunger/cravings
    • Week 3 target: Green veggies with 2 meals
    • Week 4 target: Limit processed foods to 1x/week
  • Month two: Lose 6 lbs
    • Week 1 target: Daily leisure walk
    • Week 2 target: Limit starchy carbs to evening meal
    • Week 3 target: Limit starchy carbs to evening meal
    • Week 4 target: 2 HIIT workouts
  • Month three: Lose 6 lbs
    • Week 1 target: 10 minutes of visualization every morning
    • Week 2 target: 2 weight training workouts
    • Week 3 target: Protein & fat for breakfast
    • Week 4 target: Whole foods only

I would write down my goal of losing 20 pounds in 12 weeks and I’d also write down my goals of losing 8, 6 and 6 pounds each month. I would monitor my progress every week by checking my weight and measurements. I think these types of goals have a MUCH higher chance of success than a goal of “I want to lose 40 pounds in 2015”.

As far as types of goals you can set for other areas of your life, I encourage you to make sure they are measurable. For example, instead of setting a goal that you want to save more money, establish how much money you want to save in 12 weeks and create weekly action steps of how you’re going to do that like eating out less often, getting a less expensive cell phone plan, selling old books & DVDs to a used book store, etc. Establish how much money you plan to save each month during the 12 weeks and create a weekly plan to make that happen.

If your goal is to improve your relationship, set a goal that defines how you’ll measure that progress. You might decide to focus for 1 month on improving communication by changing the way you respond to disagreements or spending more time sharing your thoughts & ideas with your partner. You might choose to focus on spending more time together via date nights or committing to having breakfast together 4 mornings each week. Whatever you goal is, make sure that you have measureable, incremental components so that you are able to evaluate you progress and adjust accordingly.

Here’s to making 2015 an incredible year of health, wealth and self-improvement!!!


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