Get a jump start for the New Year with, get ready– zero New Year’s Resolutions! That’s right, no crash diets, extreme juice cleanses or two weeks of strict gym workouts and limiting food plans only to be short-lived after reality settles. The truth is, resolutions are hardest to maintain when we set greater expectations than what we are willing to commit to in the long-term.
Now before you write this off, here are a few facts that more than a few of us, myself included, can relate to! According to Psychology Today, about half of all adults make New Year’s resolutions.1 However, fewer than 10% manage to keep them for more than a few months.2 So, how do we break the cycle of unfulfilled annual goals and resolutions?
It is time to switch up our approach and trade in our over-rigid resolutions for some attainable set values. You might be thinking, what is the difference between writing out resolutions versus defining values? When we reflect on what resolutions actually mean, according to Webster dictionary, they are “a firm decision to do or not to do something,”3 we can feel a bit restricted or unmotivated a month out of setting such high expectations for ourselves. For example, say you make a resolution to visit an LA Fitness club at least four times a week. The first month, or month and a half, you are crushing it! You may even have a commitment to a set time on showing up and have been consistent with that new goal.
However, as months go by, you may notice less consistency in sticking to your previously committed workout time. Soon after that, you may start shaving off one or two of those days a week because, well, life happens. As a result, we often internalize these choices of not committing to “Plan A” as a small failure that grows into discouragement from perhaps trying again in the future.
So, how do we counter this problem that so many of us face? We redefine these resolutions, and define our set values, “a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life!”4 The great thing about defining values instead of making resolutions is that the strictness is taken out and the goal seems a little less daunting in the process of pursuing. When we approach our lives to create good habits, practiced on an incremental daily basis, we throw out internalized judgments of failure, and therefore, increase the likelihood of developing long-term wellness habits.
Here are some practical ways you can begin defining clear and achievable core values that may help enable long-term habits for a brighter, balanced, and better you!
How to Execute
Part I: Define your core values.
Begin by defining what are your core values. Ultimately, these are going to be what supports your overall goal(s) in this upcoming year.
Resolution: I am going to go to the gym four times a week.
Core value: I am going to make fitness a priority in my life on a regular basis with a commitment to physical exercise four times a week.
Part II: How to Execute.
Core value: I am going to make fitness a priority in my life by increasing my physical activity. I will try a new training method (kickboxing, HIIT training, yoga) and discover ways to get exercise in daily. If I can’t make it to the gym, I will implement other means of exercising like taking the stairs at work, or walking to the nearby market, or keep my running shoes and gym clothes with me in my car to inspire working out.
Part III: Follow up.
We want to dig a little deeper and ask ourselves again why we are wanting to achieve our specific goals. What will happen if you achieve this goal? Do you genuinely want to feel healthy? Do you love the feeling get after a good workout? Are you happier? More attentive to other daily commitments? More energized?
The follow up is key here. Reason being, when you have a clear understanding of why something is important to you, you are more likely to stay committed to that principle. That is the beautiful thing about this approach. You define what you truly stand for in relation to this goal or resolution, and more importantly why you believe in it versus solely focusing on the activity necessary in achieving that goal.
You can take these steps and apply it to defining core values around eating habits, relationships, and any other activity that means something to you. Success is simply a series of compounded decisions we make over-time in order to excel in a particular area of our lives, be it fitness, nutrition, work-life balance, or relationships. So, before setting those New Year’s resolutions, try applying the method of defining your core values instead. Hopefully, this approach will help compliment your endeavors in living life brighter, and more balanced, and help maintain a better you in the long-term.
- “How to Keep Your New Year’s Resolutions.” Psychology Today, 26 Dec. 2017, https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/evidence-based-living/201712/how-keep-your-new-years-resolutions.
- “Resolution” Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2010, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/resolution. Accessed 28 October 2018.
- “Value” Oxford English Dictionary Online, 2010, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/value. Accessed 28 October 2018.