It’s no surprise that fitness centers see a nice healthy bump in new client registrations, or that the local bookstore will have a table set up with diet and fitness books featuring the newest programs. Yes, January 1st is the most optimistic day of the year, but February is approaching fast, and already those books are being marked down and treadmills are starting to open up at peak time in the gym. According to Richard Wiseman, a researcher based at University of Hertfordshire in the UK, recent studies showed that only about 12% of people in the study were able to stick to their resolutions — but there are ways to improve the odds.
Wiseman’s even posted a simple quiz to help us figure out the likelihood of achieving our goals. I tried it out for two of my goals, one fitness-related, and one related to maintaining this blog. For both I scored somewhere in the “medium” range, meaning I have some good goal-setting/achieving habits, but I probably need to help myself out by incorporating some more tricks of the resolution trade, like:
- Work a plan: Breaking resolutions into smaller goals or tasks that can be scheduled and completed. For instance, right now I’m drafting a post for each of the three major categories on this blog. After that, I’m going to get up to 10 posts.
- Let the cat out of the bag: Share goals with supportive family and friends. Sometimes it’s easy to let ourselves down, but we’re conditioned to try harder to keep promises to others.
- Visualize: You’re making this commitment to change for a reason. What’s the end goal? How will it feel to achieve it? Write this down, or find a key image that you can come back to for inspiration.
- Write it down: Journaling is a great for a couple of reasons. One is that if you hit a plateau, being able to look back over your logs (whether it’s mileage, mets, reps, or calories) can help you diagnose and adjust your plan. Second, is that if you track how you’re feeling, you learn a lot about what works for you and what blocks you from progress. Work stress? Offhand comments from a well-meaning but clueless gym buddy?
- Cheer yourself on: Reward yourself for progress, and don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes. Just get back in the game!