The five most popular New Year’s resolutions for 2024 are to save more money, to exercise more, to eat healthier, to spend more time with friends and family, and to loose weight. They are pretty similar to the goals of 2021, 2022, and 2023. Making goals to be happier and healthier are great, but getting there is key. Here are five helpful tips for choosing a resolution that is attainable.
1. Believe in emotional readiness.
Emotional readiness is the ability to work on a task because of emotional maturity. For example, a sixteen-year-old may not be able to deal with the stressors of seven people answering up to them, but a thirty-year-old might.
People often hold off on a task because they do not feel equipped to handle it and believe they’ll be more emotionally ready in the future. It is known that procrastinating the idea of a goal feels easier than starting it. People can also place pressure on themselves to make the biggest, best, and most helpful goal ever made. Makin goals is not about writing down something that looks the best on paper, but about assessing the emotional state and desires of this stage of life.
Get started on the goal as soon as possible. The most important thing is grabbing a pen and paper and writing out the first words that come to mind about the goal, this is a much more effective starting place than one may think. Then, reflect on the goal over the next couple of days. What keeps coming to mind when thinking about the goal? That is probably the right spot for you to start. Goals can be big or small. Select the goal that is the right fit for life’s current needs.
2. Not the goals of friends or family.
Do not create a goal based on what friends, family members or society are saying to change. Goals can get off track when they are too influenced by others. Make them personalized.
After writing a rough idea of the goal on paper, write down 5 things to be grateful for. Being reminded of things to be grateful for puts new goals into context as well extra inspiration to prioritize what is important.
One new way to look at current habits when making a goal is if they are done more than half of the week, or less than half of the week. Say for example that Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday the team gets takeout for lunch at work, more than half of the days of the week are being spent eating out. A new goal could review current habits, and search for better – such as eating out only one to two days a week.
Make sure the goal is specific and that a realistic plan is developed for achieving it. Make it personal. See #3 for how to make a specific and personally meaningful goal.
3. Learn about the goal.
If the topic of the resolution is new to you, gather all the information. Being educated on the topic will make it much easier to accomplish.
If the goal is to be more physically active, learn the proper technique for running or weight training. Ask for help if its needed. If the goal is to save more money, research different programs/budget types and pick one that is doable for life’s current needs.
Do not be left in the dark because of hesitancy on where to start. Try writing a S.M.A.R.T goal after research, this is how it is done:
- Specific – Narrow the goal down to addressing one particular item/concept. The more specific, the better.
- Measurable – While writing the goal, find or create a way to measure progress. Measuring progress will serve as a motivator and prove the great progress being made since the start of this journey.
- Achievable – Make sure to write a goal that is genuinely reasonable to accomplish within the time frame that has been set. Too lofty and it is much less likely to feel approachable. Too easy and it is easily ignorable.
- Relevant – The goal should align with the life’s current needs and interests. It should fall in line with where the future is headed as well. For example, do not make a goal to become a world traveler if the future may hold settling down with a family.
- Time-based – Set a clear, realistic and ambitious date to complete the goal by. It will make each task within the goal clearer in context of the due date and serve as a motivator.
The more detailed the resolution is, the easier it will be to achieve. If the resolution is to “eat healthier” try mapping out the first steps to do so after making a S.M.A.R.T goal. For example, start with switching out soda with water three times a week if soda is the regular choice.
4. Find a community.
Although the resolution should be chosen based on personal goals, it is nice to have an encouraging community to help the process. If the goal is to own a pastry shop in town by 2026, start leaning into the local community surrounding baking and food preparation. It doesn’t matter if the community is big or small, start to build those connections.
Build a community of likeminded individuals because they will be the ones to inspire, motivate and cheer on. And best of all, celebrate milestones and achievements. Having a group or even a close friend or family member with similar values can help for staying on track and feeling a sense of belonging.
It could also be a professionally staffed resource like a quit-smoking support group or financial counselor. Whoever they may be, make sure to find supportive, motivated, and friendly people.
5. Think of each “small” change as a lifestyle change.
Eighty percent of New Year’s goals fail by February due to goal setters being in too much of a hurry and not knowing their “why.” When creating a goal, think about the resolution as a lifestyle modification, remind oneself why these changes are desired.
In order to form a true habit, committing mentally and practicing the goal for 21 days is needed. Small changes to everyday habits, though, will create a life that constantly becomes happier and healthier. It is important to remember that there will be some friction at first, it is not natural to act in new ways. But, with practice, habits will become a new way of living that slips the mind instead of feeling like a chore.
Priority Health believes in supporting our member’s overall wellbeing (i.e., mental, financial, emotional, etc.) not just physical health. Our Wellbeing Hub offers activities and programs to members based on their individual health status or areas of interest. Not a member? Talk to your health plan provider to see what programs they offer to support your health and wellbeing goals.
Make a goal starting today that will create the life that is desired. The future self that life will get there by starting today, continuing tomorrow, next month, and throughout all of this year. The right time to set a goal is the moment the first rough draft is written.