Thursday, January 2, 2014

New Year Resolutions! Do They Really Exist!?

Happy 2014!  So you might be wondering why I am posting this on January 2 and not January 1? Come on, did you honestly expect me to believe that you would actually be awake on January 1 from partying the night before (or more like the morning of)?  Half of you probably spent all of January 1 sleeping in, drinking gallons of Gatorade or leaning over the porcelain throne!  However since many of us go back to work on Jan 2, I figured by then you would probably be awake long enough to read my blog! So again Happy New Years!

So the first thing people always ask when the New Year rings in is "what's your New Years Resolution (NYR)?"  I always find this question interesting because more then half the people that ask don't actually keep it long enough to finish the sentence.  According to statistics the average person that keeps their NYR is only 8%.  The average length of NYR is as follows: 75% maintain it for 1 week.  71% maintain it past two weeks.  64% maintain it past one month and 46% maintain it past six months. As you can see the more time that advances, the lower and lower this number gets.  Now the bigger question is why does the average person fail at this attempt?  Well lets look at that and see where the pitfalls lie and how to overcome them.  We are going to break down the S.M.A.R.T. system that is used when setting New Years Resolutions and make sure we turn our NYR into achievable goals.

1. Is It Specific

Many of us have a specific date as to when we want to start our NYR goal which is January 1.  But not many of us have a specific plan as to how we are going to achieve this.  The biggest NYR goal is no surprise, losing weight. However many don't specify how much weight they want to lose or how they plan to go about this. Therefore first thing you need to do is identify your goal and then write down your plan as to how you are going to achieve this.  So if for example losing weight is your goal, then be specific on what you need to make this happen.  First, how much weight do you want to lose? Do you need to join a gym?  Make a food diary?  Clean out your kitchen cupboards in order to not be tempted by high calorie or empty calorie foods? If you are working out from home do you have the gear you need to help you do this?  Are you going to be packing your lunch to work to avoid eating out?  Set your weight lost goal and then be specific and set your plan into motion. If you are not specific on how much you want to lose or how you plan to do this, then forgot about your NYR because you have already failed before you even started.

 2. Is It Measurable

After you make a specific goal and plan, you then need to go back and see if your goal is measurable.  So lets say you want to lose 30 pounds.  However are looking to lose 30 pounds by May 30 or January 30? You need to make sure your goals have a proper timetable in order to make them achievable.  Losing 30 pounds by May 30 is possible as that means you need to lose 6 pounds a month.  However losing 30 pounds by January 30 is not.  Unless you liposuction your whole body and go on a starvation diet; the odds of you losing this much weight in 30 days may not only be impossible but completely unhealthy.  This same system goes for all your other goals.  If you want to pay off your debt, you first step is to figure out how much you owe.  After that, how much you make and how much you can afford to pay off quickly while still managing to live on a budget.  Because yes if you want to pay off your debt, you need to live on a budget in order to make this happen. 

3. Is It Attainable

So now that you have identified your specific goal and have put measures in place to make it achievable,  you now need to see if it is attainable.  The reason for this is because not all good intentions work out for good. Allow me to elaborate.  Just because you decide to lose 30 pounds by May doesn't mean this is actually attainable in your life.  If for example you suffer from a medical condition that causes you to gain weight no matter what you do; that right there will make your NYR invalid if that plan can't really be put into place.  At this point you need to either alter your plan or change it altogether.  In order to reach your goal you first need to be sure it is even possible in the first place.  So while losing weight may be possible, however in your life this may not be attainable if your medical condition affects this process.  Nonetheless, you can always still alter the plan and decide you want to workout to stay healthy which still goes a long way.  

Same goes for debt.  If you have $50,000 in debt but only make $20,000 a year and pay $1000 in rent plus all your other bills; the odds of you paying your debt off is highly unlikely.  Even if you budget yourself to the max, the odds are still against you in even being able save any sort of money to put towards your debt.  Give it that you have any money left over right now to start with once all your bills are paid.  In order to pay off your debt you would have to find a better paying job or move back to your parents place (or get a roommate) in order to have extra cash every month to put towards the debt.  So make sure your plan is attainable even with all the restrictions we normally have in our lives.

4.  Is It Realistic

Part of making a NYR plan is making sure that your goal is realistic.  Even if you tell yourself "Starting January 1, I want to lose 30 pounds comes May 30 and I plan to do it by.......".  Even if you have planned out step 1 to 3 as stated above the main question still comes down to "are you realistically going to stick with this plan?" Is losing weight really a goal or a pipe dream? Because if losing weight sounds like a good idea, but not a plan you are going to put into motion (and you know for a fact that you are not), then you might as well sit back down on the couch and keep eating your bon bons like Peggy Bundy.  The greatest let down for many people is not reaching their goals.  So what's the point of setting out on something you know you are never really going to do? Why mentally put yourself through a let down that you know will only end up that way?  Part of goal setting is being realistic.  So be realistic with who you are and what you know you can and can't do or are willing to do.  Nothing says failure then setting off on a trip you never really planned to take in the first place and therefore you failed to pack accordingly.  Remember that old saying "people who fail to plan, plan to fail". Keep that mind if you have no real drive to meet your goals. 

5. Is It Time Based

In the Measurable part we spoke about losing 30 pounds by May 30.  However after that then what? If your goal is to lose 30 pounds by May 30 and nothing more and you reach it, then good for you. However you still need to make every step a time based plan. Because if not, when May 30th rolls around and all you've lost was 10 pounds by May 1, you may find yourself pressed for time.  So work on a time based plan.  If you want to lose 30 pounds by May 30 then identify where you need to lose the first 10 and then the next 10 in order to reach 30 pounds for that day.  For example by Feb 15 you want to lose 10 pounds.  By April 1 you want to lose another 10 and by May 30 you want to lose the last 10 pounds.  If you don't work on a realistic time based plan then your May 30th goal may end up pushing you to September 30th and then that pushes you to December 31 and we right back we started from last year.  Same place and still 30 pounds (if not more) overweight.  So set time based goals and stick to those.  However if you happen to miss your bench mark then just adjust your plan so that it still remains realistic.  Look, life happens and nothing ever works out exactly as we want it too.  So we must be flexible to bend with it, but that doesn't mean giving up on it. 

So there you have it guys! Tell me below what your NYR goals are and let me know if it works out for you by following the S.M.A.R.T. plan!

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