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Lessons from New Year's Resolutions

According to Statista, the 5 top New Year’s resolutions for 2021 were:

1. Get in Shape/Improve Fitness

2. Lose Weight

3. Save more money

4. Improve my diet

5. Pursue a career ambition

Are any of these resolutions inherently bad? Of course not, it’s just that resolutions like this are nearly doomed from the start. Stats vary by source, but generally only 10-20% of people report that they set and achieved New Year resolutions. Here are some quick tips that will increase your odds of success for any goal this year:

1. Get specific and time-bound – Setting a tangible and specific goal will both help you know when you get there and will motivate you by being trackable. Goals like “Improve my 5k run time by 3 minutes by June” and “Lose 5 lbs per month through March” are specific and you will see progress toward your goal along the way. Visualizing success is also helpful….vividly imagining what reaching your goal will look and feel like will help you take the steps each day to get there.

2. Break it down – Big generic goals targeting a future state can sometimes look so big or hard that you give up. Take the objective and break it into smaller targeted actions that you are confident you can do now and will move you tangibly in the right direction. Make momentum your friend! Instead of “Save more money”, something like “Put $5/day into savings by replacing my Frappucino with an extra cup of coffee at the office”.

3. Set yourself up for success – Ensure you are being realistic about the barriers you face for any particular goal. If you want to improve your diet but find yourself always eating fast food because you don’t have time, perhaps you need to focus on some supportive behaviors and systems. Something like the following might be really helpful: “Block 3 hours on Monday evening to make some healthy meals to put in the fridge/freezer for the week”. Having an accountability partner is also a big step toward building commitment and achieving your goal.

What goals do you or your team have at work that are suffering from some of the same problems as common New Year’s resolutions? What can you do to increase your odds?

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