New Years is just a few days away, a time to celebrate the old and bring in the new. For many it also is an opportunity for a “fresh start” on our goals and aspirations, such as: lose weight, get fit, improve our photography skills, and more. In fact the US government has a site with the most popular resolutions listed with links to resources to help us achieve our goals.
Interestingly only 45% of Americans make resolutions annually, and by year end only 8% are realized. So why make them at all, one might ask? According to studies, those who make resolutions are more likely than those who do not to achieve their desired results. Hmmm.
Since I want to make some changes this year, I searched for tips on how to make and achieve successful resolutions. Although there is a ton of information available, especially at this time of year, here is a sampling of what I found:
Stay true to yourself: According to Gretchen Rubin, author of Better Than Before: Mastering the Habits of our Everyday Lives, the most important step is to know yourself and figure out what works for you. Do you do better starting small, or starting big? Some need accountability, others want a break, and then can go back to the goal. Look back at the times when you were successful in creating new habits, and build the strategies you used into your future goals.
Set intentions, not “shoulds:” When we see our goals as an intentions, aims or aspirations, we respond better. The more connected we are to what we want to achieve, our desired outcome, feeling, or result, the more likely we will do the work that is required. Instead of stating that I want to walk more, or I should walk more, make it concrete. “I will walk daily, and explore four new routes every month.” An added bonus for me is that while I am Camera Walking, I achieve creative goals as well, so it fuels my desire to get out and walk.
Work on one thing at a time: After the holidays it is tempting to list 5 new goals that you want to achieve: lose weight, walk more, increase your income, sell your art, and more. Experts caution that we are more successful if we work on one thing at time until it becomes a regular habit, so prioritize your intentions and give the number one the focus it deserves.
Develop a plan: Once you have your focus, translate it into a daily action plan with specific behaviors. Put it on your calendar. Make room for the new goal, and remember that it will take time before the new habit becomes a regular one. I know that a visual reminder on my calendar to go out walking, or focus on increasing my photography skills, is essential to making it happen.
Use technology: There are a number of fun tech options to support you. We have written about our love of Fitbit as a way to motivate us to get out and walk more. But increasingly there are more apps that might work for you. Nike+Training Club has a free app that offers 15-45 minute workouts if you don’t want to go outside, or to the gym. MyFitnessPal is a very popular weight-loss tool, and there many others that can help you achieve your health goals.
Practice daily: Regardless of the goal, do it daily. This helps make it a regular habit faster. Saying that you will make it to the gym 3 x a week, is good, but it is easy to skip. Walking daily, taking photos daily, will move your new habit into a regular one. Remember that there are always slip-ups, but think of them as detours that might take you off your route for a bit, but you can get back on track the next day. Perhaps, like Matt Cutts in this TED talk, you might consider committing to your goal for 30 days and see how it works. For most, it it will take you a long way towards turning it into a regular habit.
This year I am going to create a workable plan for achieving my goals. I hope you will join me, but in the interim, CameraWalking would like to wish you a very Happy New Years! See you in 2015!