By Patty Gardner
It’s getting to be that time of year – you know what I’m talking about – the time when you start thinking about goals for the New Year. Unfortunately, statistics show the traditional manner of goal setting, making New Year’s Resolutions, doesn’t have a chance in heck of succeeding. Most people abandon their goals before the month of January is even over.
I know the experts say you should set specific goals but maybe they’re wrong. Certainly there are times when specific goals are necessary. But sometimes you’re not trying to make big, dramatic changes – you just want to do a little bit better.
So if that’s you, maybe this year it’s time to try something different – something that will result in actually doing a little bit better!
The approach I’m talking about is less like a task on your to-do list (drink water, exercise, etc.) and more like analysis.
Let’s say you want to improve your eating habits. We all know how difficult that is. And setting specific goals like drinking 6 glasses of water or eating 1,500 calories or exercising 30 minutes a day may or may not happen. Unfortunately, our mindset is usually that if we can’t do the WHOLE thing, we won’t bother to do it at all. So instead of drinking 2 glasses of water, we don’t drink any. Instead of exercising 10 minutes, we don’t exercise at all. And instead of keeping track of our calories, we eat what we want and vow to do better tomorrow.
The analysis method eliminates that all or nothing thinking.
Here’s how it works. You have generic goals like:
1. Drink more water;
2. Get more exercise;
3. Eat better.
You can put those on your to-do list to remind you of your goals if you want to. In fact, that’s probably a good idea. You want to keep them visible because as you go through your day, you’re going to try to do better in those areas. Then at the end of the day, you analyze how you did. You can jot down a note next to each item or answer a question.
Yes. I had water with my meals instead of having soda.
2. What did I do to get some exercise?
I took the stairs instead of the elevator.
I walked in place for 15 minutes before I ate lunch.
3. What good things did I do today toward a more healthy diet?
I had fruit for my snacks instead of chips from the vending machine.
Without the pressure of having to drink 6 glasses of water or eat 1,500 calories or exercise 30 minutes, you might just actually end up doing those things but they become your choice instead of something you HAVE to do. And if you have a bad day, you had a bad day. It’s not the end of the world and it’s not a reason to quit.
So when it’s time to nail down those New Year’s Resolutions, maybe you should think about the analysis method instead of the traditional goal-setting method. You just might find that instead of abandoning your goals by the end of January, you’re actually making your life better, a little at a time.