The winter holidays are past. Gift wrapping has been thrown away, the tree is coming down, and left overs are long gone. The house has been cleaned. Now you can focus on YOU and what you want to accomplish this year. No pressure, right? Now you only have to commit to losing 20 pounds, going to the gym five times a week, eating healthier, drinking less coffee, lowering your blood pressure, cleaning out the basement, finally painting that room, and getting a promotion…
Before you set yourself up for failure, and the self-loathing and depression that is sure to follow, consider how realistic your goals are, and who you’re doing them for. Here are some tips to help you set realistic goals and accomplish them without stressing yourself out:
1. Decide why you are setting the goal.
- Often times we feel pressured to do things we think will make other people happier or proud of us. Sometimes we just give in to general social pressure (women are expected to set goals to lose weight and be healthier). The problem with this is that if you aren’t doing it for you, you won’t be very motivated to do the hard work and follow through. Motivation is a major predictor of success: motivated people will try harder and push past barriers while unmotivated people are more apt to give up when things get tough. If you are making a healthy choice for someone else, try to find a way to truly embrace the change by focusing on how it will benefit you.
2. Only set a few goals for the year.
- Life is already busy, and making changes takes work. Any new endeavor will take time to adjust to, and at first you might feel like there simply isn’t time in your schedule. This can also be a convenient excuse (I was going to go to the gym, but I had to pick up the kids and go to the grocery store, and by the time dinner was made I just didn’t have the energy!). The more goals you set, the harder it will be to find the time and energy to attend to those goals. It can also feel overwhelming having to remember everything you’re supposed to do.
3. Consider dividing your goals into smaller, sub-goals.
- Setting a large goal like “losing 15 pounds” or “going to the gym five days a week” when you never went before can be daunting. Instead, set smaller goals, like losing two pounds a month, or getting to the gym at least twice a week. You’ll feel more accomplished as you hit ‘mile markers’ instead of spending all year working towards a large goal.
As seen in 40z Rock Magazine