A full month of 2018 has nearly come and gone, so now seems a great time to reflect on the status of your thoughtfully and earnestly arrived at New Year’s resolutions. How have they been adapted into your life’s routines? Were you able to incorporate new healthy eating tips, such as those recently suggested by the National Foundation for Cancer Research?
If you’re struggling with maintaining headway, you’re not alone. Only a small minority—9.2% according to a recently updated and commonly cited study—believe themselves to have achieved the annual goals set to sail in early January. For many of us, by the end of the first month, we come to realize with a mix of resignation and humor that our New Year’s resolutions barely floated beyond the harbor’s edge before a call of “man overboard.”
Before beating yourself up about the status of personal goals, let us remember that even the world’s great sailing events are won by competitors who perform less than optimally during any given number of legs of a competition. Failure is not failure at all if we find the lesson in our shortcomings, adjust our sails accordingly and continue toward the horizon.
Self-Compassion: The Goal-Setting Paradox
This idea is strongly supported by studies in self-compassion. Not to be confused with enabling, self-compassion stimulates intrinsic motivation for self-care. Those who rate high in self-compassion are highly resilient to the setbacks of life. They understand that setbacks are a normal part of the human condition, so they are less likely to give up when the going gets tough.
Self-compassion also stimulates an increase in self-awareness, which is an essential component of any wellness goal. Self-awareness allows you to tune into your body and prioritize self-care. It empowers you with the ability to pause before making decisions about your nutrition, listen to your body when you feel full and engage in the proper intensity and duration of exercise. Self-awareness is a necessary tool for maintaining sustainable wellness goals.
Baby Steps & Backups
When you reflect on the past month, take an honest assessment of the New Year’s resolutions that you excitedly set on January 1st. As a life and wellness coach, I (Sarah Hodges) commonly recommend that my clients start with micro-goals that will grow over time. These might be as simple as committing to a five minute daily stretch routine, starting the day with a healthier breakfast or taking a short walk at lunch. And if that’s too much, it’s okay to simply start with a one minute daily stretch routine, a commitment to avoid skipping breakfast or getting out of the office chair more often at work.
There is no shame in setting a micro-goal, and no goal is too small. As time goes on, you will adapt, feel good about your progress and naturally desire to invest more time and energy into it.
Do whatever you can to set yourself up for success. Put sticky notes all over your computer. Set alarms and reminders in your phone. Arrange the table for breakfast the night before. Keep your yoga mat out. Do whatever will make it easier for you to stick with your self-improvement initiative.
Most importantly, remember that it’s important to acknowledge that you will forget or otherwise sometimes revert to old ways. You might even do so often. That’s okay. Setting new habits is hard, but with self-compassion, self-awareness, micro-goals and reassurance, you’ll be able to stick with your New Year’s resolutions and sail into 2019 as a happier, healthier you.