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New Year, New You: Making resolutions that stick

Setting resolutions for a healthier, happier 2017? Reinventing yourself starts with setting the right types of goals.

Before you know it, January has arrived. Many of us will spend some time reflecting on the year that was and the year that will be.

The dawn of a new year seems like an ideal time to set goals, or resolutions, if you’re feeling the need to break some bad habits and create healthier ones.

The problem?

Most of us – in fact, as many as 92 per cent of us – never achieve our resolutions. Researchers suggest this is because we’re either setting goals that are too hard to accomplish, or we’re simply not ready to achieve them.

Weight loss, an extremely popular resolution theme, is thought to be so unsuccessful because it’s too unrealistic and the person making the resolution isn’t ready to change.

For goals to be achieved, they need to align with your personal values (tip: remove the word ‘should’ from goals – along with any feelings of guilt and shame that are acting as motivators).

Goal setting is most effective when it’s linked to intrinsic (internal) motivators.

How to set internal goals

Intrinsic motivation comes from within, whereas extrinsic motivation is tied to external factors like wealth and appearance – and is thought to be less motivating in the long term.

So, if you want to create a healthier, happier you, start by looking inside yourself. Work out what gives you an overall sense of purpose and happiness, and aim to set goals around those factors.

Here are some questions to help you consider what your intrinsic motivations are:

  • What type of exercise makes you feel good?
  • What do you like learning about?
  • What flavours do you enjoy eating?
  • Who makes you happy, and how can you involve them in your goals (e.g. exercising together)

Set specific goals

A goal such as ‘lose 5kg before March’ is a good start, but it doesn’t explain or address the how – and this is also why a lot of weight loss goals fail.

If you want to lose weight, you’ll need to make an action plan that addresses the specific pathway. How are you going to lose weight? What will you eat daily and weekly? How much will you exercise?

Setting a goal around exercise might have the added benefit of weight loss. One study suggested a positive? link between people meeting their activity goals and their weight loss goals.

Tell others about your goals

Sharing your commitment can mean you’re more likely to give up less easily and work harder at achieving your goals.

When you’re accountable to others, not only yourself, you won’t want to let them down.

Also, why not involve others in your goals, too? Like sharing your commitment, committing together can also help you to create ‘sticky’ goals.

Think outside the box

While we often associate a new year, new you with a healthier you, there are other ways to make a positive change, too.

Consider socially responsible, environmentally friendly goals, such as:

  • Ditching plastic bags and taking reusable bags when you go shopping
  • Taking a reusable plastic coffee cup instead of ordering your takeaway coffee in disposable cups
  • Spending less time in front of your phone and more time reading books
  • Spending more time with friends and family and less time online
  • Supporting local farmers and eating organic produce

References

Category: Wellness

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Article by: Defence Health