It's February, New Year's Resolutioners! Do you know where your goals are?
I'm not a huge fan of New Year's Resolutions, I'm a true fan of resolutions made any time you are most likely to stick to them. If you have set yourself up for success and the resolution or goal has a chance to "stick," that's when you should do it. If you are someone who does well marking the turn of the calendar to set new goals, then do that!
Statistically, if you are still working toward a specifically "New Years Resolution"-y goal, you're ahead of the game! Many of the goals set with ambition and vigor late into the day (or night) on December 31 are all but abandoned by the second Friday in January. But if you have set up routines, methods, schedules and maybe even rewards systems for yourself, and it's working, congrats and keep it up!
I do not typically encourage clients to make resolutions tied to the magical changing of the calendar unless they are committed to making lifestyle changes. But if that's the case, and they want a fresh start feeling, the changing of every new month or even week can serve the purpose as well. If you do find yourself leaning toward new goals any time of year, I have a few suggestions I hope will lend to your success.
Make it realistic and attainable, which in my mind mostly means one that fits your personality type. For example, if a big goal of losing 50 pounds motivates you and it helps to steadily focus on that long-term goal, you should do that. If it's too overwhelming to think in larger terms, break it down to a monthly or weekly goal, or related goal or habit that will lead to overall success and work toward that.
Setbacks or plateaus should not be a surprise, but they also definitely should not be a reason to give up. Just about everyone experiences them, whether it is about losing weight, building strength, saving money, or even giving up a vice. If every setback or moment of halted progress was interpreted as a reason to give up, would humans ever get anywhere?! We aren't perfect, not even close, and I do believe the perfect can be the enemy of the good, so tell the perfect to hit the road.
Know your "why." Choosing a goal based on external motivation can still progress us in the right direction, but if you don't have an internal motivation, I do not believe you'll be as successful or as happy with results, or be as likely to maintain it. Our mental condition often lends to our physical condition and habits, and it is important to nurture our inside to manifest results.
Have an accountability plan-whether that means tracking progress on an app or a chart, checking in with a friend or family member, forming a group for support, sharing in a social media forum, or working with a partner or professional advisor, tracking progress is helpful. As a caveat, if tracking every little movement is discouraging, zooming out to track longer-term progress can be helpful. For example, if weight loss is your main goal, weighing yourself every day can be counterproductive for some people who don't want to see the occasional static number (or even a small backslide). Noticing how you feel, and how your clothes fit, and just hitting your calorie intake and burn, macronutrients tracking or activity log can be a more encouraging and less intense way of tracking progress.
Be kind to yourself. Give yourself a pat on the back once in a while. Reward yourself for big gains (or losses). If you have a setback, find means of positive affirmation and refocus your effort. Each day is a new act and your are in charge of writing the script.
With a determined mindset and a properly set stage to set you up for success, goal setting and tracking can be a powerful aspect of self-improvement.