New Year, New You? How to Set Realistic Goals That You’ll Actually Stick With

New Year, New You? How to Set Realistic Goals That You’ll Actually Stick With

It’s the start of a New Year, and for many that means setting New Year’s resolutions. According to one list, 38.5% of adults in the United States set New Year’s resolutions each year, but only 9% successfully keep them.

So what’s the key to setting a resolution that will stick? To start, consider ditching the concept of a resolution altogether and instead set SMART goals, said Dani Dutro, psychotherapist and Valley’s Employee Behavioral Health Advocate.

“SMART” goals is an acronym that stands for goals that are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely. If you’re trying to set a goal that feels unattainable, you may want to examine its scope.

“If you have a New Year’s resolution that you want to pursue but you feel unprepared, make the goal smaller,” Dutro said. “If you run into achievable, realistic, and you’re like, ‘I don’t really know about that,’ make the goal smaller. For example, instead of setting a resolution or a goal to change your entire diet, start by changing what you eat for breakfast.”

Other tips from Dutro to make progress towards your goals:

  1. If it’s not on your calendar, it’s not real. Put things into your schedule, whether it’s a workout, a run, or making dinner for your partner. Put those on your calendar and turn on your phone’s calendar notifications so that you’re reminded.
  2. Thread it into your daily life. Don’t get burnt out by taking on too much. The best way to make your goal sustainable is by making it a lifestyle.
  3. Consider a goal you’ve never pursued before. Don’t choose a goal just because it’s what other people are doing. Fresh, new goals can equal fresh, new fuel and motivation.
  4. Don’t give up after the first setback. Successful individuals are likely to experience 14 slip-ups during a two-year interval. Resilience, or the ability to bounce back from setbacks, is essential for goal success.
  5. Deeply understand the “why” behind your goal. What is that motivation? Why is it now necessary to change?
  6. Set specific and challenging long-term goals, if you feel ready. Then also consistently set small and realistic short-term goals, so that you have a sense of accomplishment.
  7. Consider enlisting an accountability partner. Enlist a family member or a friend pursuing similar goals or find like-minded people online or wherever you find community with similar goals.

Hear more from Dani Dutro by watching this talk she gave to Valley employees earlier this month, below.

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Valley Medical Center's Marketing and Community Outreach Office