The start of a new year is the perfect time to resolve to improve yourself or accomplish a goal. But, only about one third of us keep our resolutions past January. This year can be different! Help yourself succeed in keeping your resolution by using these tips.
Set SMART Goals
The biggest mistake most people make is setting a goal that’s too big. Start by setting a goal that’s so easy, it’s nearly impossible not to achieve.
S.M.A.R.T is an acronym for the five steps needed in goal setting. It stands for small, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely. This simple tool can turn your New Year’s resolutions into an actionable plan for REAL results. By immediately breaking down each large resolution into smaller, straightforward habits, your increase your chance of succeeding by 50%.
Start small. For example, let’s say your goal is to eat more vegetables. To make the goal measurable, you could decide to eat one cup of vegetables at dinner each day. Is eating one cup achievable for you? If not, maybe set the goal as ½ cup at first.
Are you likely to eat ½ cup of vegetables at dinner five nights a week? If not, it may be realistic to aim for eating them three nights per week.
Lastly, the goal must last a defined time period. In this example, you commit to eating ½ cup of vegetables at dinner three nights in a week. At the end of the week, you’ll know if you achieved your goal. If you have, build on your success by gradually increasing the amount or frequency over time.
For each goal you set, think through the SMART goal steps to set you up for success.
Find a Buddy
The benefits of a buddy system have been proven time and time again.
A university study cited in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology found people who recruited three friends or family members to assist them in their quest to lose weight had better results losing weight and keeping it off than those who had no buddy system for support.
A study from Indiana University showed the 12-month drop-out rate for couples participating in a fitness program was 6%, compared to 43% for individuals who joined the program alone.
But beware—it’s important to select your buddy wisely! You may love your best friend, but if they tend not to support your lifestyle changes, they may not be the right buddy. Here are qualities to look for in the perfect buddy:
- Honest: You want someone who is not afraid to speak the truth to you as long as it’s in a way that will help you reach your goal.
- Supportive: This goes without saying.
- Motivating: You want someone who will make you want to be better. If exercise is a challenge for you, try teaming up with someone who makes time for the gym regularly so you can be inspired by them.
- Has similar goals: It can be tough if your goal is to lose 10 pounds and your buddy needs to lose 50 pounds.
- Dependable: If you and your buddy plan to meet at the gym three days a week, but that buddy frequently bails out (and then you decide to ditch as well), it’s not a good fit.
- Competitive in a healthy way: A little healthy competition never hurt anyone. Set a goal between yourselves. For example, the first person to lose 25 pounds (in a healthy way) will earn $25.
- Communicates in the same way: Some people do better with a buddy they talk to in person daily. Others are fine checking in via email or text with a buddy who might be thousands of miles away. Choose a method that works best for both of you.
In weight loss studies, participants using computer or cell phone apps lost twice as much weight than those not using apps and maintained the weight loss for at least one year.
Research continues to emerge about the positive benefits of apps for weight loss success. One study found that participants using a weight loss app lost an average of 15 pounds and maintained the loss for at least a year. The participants not using the app lost an average of 8.6 pounds per person.
Why are these apps so effective? They empower users make their lifestyle changes a daily priority. They engage you to track your eating and activity patterns, teach you how that can affect weight gain/loss and offer of a built-in network of social support.