Picture it, New Year’s Eve. What resolutions did you make? Weight loss, career changes, lifestyle changes? Where are you now with reaching those goals?
Those in the corporate world may be familiar with the mid-year review process. A mid-year review is an evaluation that a manager conducts one-on-one with employees twice a year. During the review, the manager outlines the team member’s goals and determines whether they achieved them. They also set new goals to help employees learn new skills and advance their careers. What if you applied that same accountability tracking to your personal life?
What are New Year’s Resolutions?
A New Year’s resolution is a decision people make at the beginning of the New Year that they plan to keep for an entire year or more. Some people may decide to stop a bad habit, start a new one, or accomplish a goal.
Why do we make New Year’s Resolutions?
The New Year comes at a time when people look back at the past year and make an effort to improve themselves as the new year begins. The thought is to leave the “bad” behind in the old year and start the New Year with good intentions. It allows people to hit the proverbial reset button.
Why are New Year’s Resolutions hard to keep?
Of the 45% of Americans that make New Year’s resolutions, only 8% are successful. As it turns out, simply wanting to do something isn’t enough. The brain likes comfort, so it will automatically gravitate to what it already knows how to do, aka “auto-pilot,” if we are not mindful. This is why forming new habits and getting rid of old ones is so hard.
How to keep your New Year’s Resolutions
First of all, you don’t have to wait for January 1 to make changes in your life. I decided to start my weight loss journey on September 1, 2020. Random, but it worked. No matter the date you decide to implement your changes, follow the SMART rule to help ensure success:
- Specific – what exactly do you want to accomplish?
- Measurable – how will you know when you meet your goal?
- Achievable – what steps will you take to be successful?
- Realistic – Is it obtainable?
- Time – how long are you giving yourself to achieve the goal?
Writing down your goals will allow you to check back in with yourself and reassess where you are. One of my goals this year was to work out 6 days a week. First of all, I forgot I even wrote that, but it gave me a chance to either reassess my ultimate goal of reaching a healthy body mass index (BMI – i.e., weight per height) or trying something else to reach my goal.
The brain is hard-wired to run on autopilot, so it likes to continue to do things it is already doing. Habits develop when good or enjoyable events trigger the brain’s “reward” centers. That is why breaking old habits and starting new ones is so hard. Follow the process to form a new tradition and be persistent with the things you really want in life. One approach is to focus on becoming more aware of your unhealthy habits and then develop strategies to counteract them. Habits may be hard to change and form, but they can be done. Get help from friends, co-workers, and family for extra support.
Accountability is accepting responsibility for one’s actions and is the only way to make meaningful changes in life. Check-in regularly with yourself so that you can celebrate your successes and reevaluate your misses.