It’s now 2017 and we are at the beginning of an exciting new story! Some of us are happy that 2017 is here, and some of us even wish that 2016 never happened! Whichever way we look at it, 2017 represents a new start for us. Many of us spend our holidays thinking about it. A clean slate where we can set new goals for ourselves and look forward to all that we wish to accomplish this year. So what exactly happens when we get into the thick of a new workout plan and then all the sudden, it’s the holiday season and we can’t even remember the goals we set for ourselves the previous year?
There are a few reasons why in the first two weeks of committing to the new life we wish to create, we tend to take a step back to where we started, or several steps back for some of us. In an article published by PyschologyToday,com, Dr. Avya Sharma of the Canadian Obesity Network states that we often set unrealistic goals and expectations for ourselves. This seems to be the number one reason why we don’t live up to those grand aspirations that we have at the beginning of the year. This seems like a simple idea, but when we explore what an unrealistic goal really is, we quickly see the numerous ways in which the goals we set for ourselves fall into this category.
For example, a cold turkey approach is the type where we focus on erasing a bad habit or trait completely. We try to erase something from our diet or life overnight. On the other hand, a full blast approach would be the opposite, where we set a goal of working out everyday or doing something to an extreme amount. We try to create instant perfection. However, perfect and human don’t usually go hand in hand and once we find out that we aren’t perfect, we start to invite imperfections in willingly, since they’re gonna be there anyway.
Another thing we do is create a lofty goal, trying to lose 50 pounds in two months. While the lucky ones might meet this type of goal – typically in some extreme and sometimes traumatic ways – this type of goal is usually physically unhealthy along with being mentally and emotionally taxing. In the short term we see great results, but in the long term, was the process we took there a recipe to long term success?
The real culprit in this scenario is the grand expectation that we set for ourselves. Without creating an actual process that will bring us closer to the change that we are looking for, instead we create an expectation. We then look to our expectation as the primary motivating factor and in the meantime, we gloss over the small victories we achieve on the way to that goal. This is the number one characteristic of a New Year’s resolution destined for failure. To avoid this pothole, here are some helpful questions to ask ourselves when creating our resolution.
1) Are our goals simple, attainable and measurable?
2) Is it better to focus on lofty goals, or is it better to focus on a set of simple actions that will not only help us achieve realistic goals, but also provide a process that we can apply to other areas of our lives?
3) Now that I’ve written my goal down, how can I visualize or imagine the path to that goal? What do I see, smell, hear, feel?
Once you’ve written down the answers to these questions, you are WAY closer to creating a process oriented approach. Creating a realistic approach to your goal – not a result oriented approach, but process oriented – will ultimately change the way we cope with stress, the little small failures and victories on the way. The way that we approach and think about this process, provides a skill there that can be nurtured and then applied to other parts of life. It’s the journey, not the destination. Trust the process.