Once again, it’s that time of year when we make a promise to ourselves to stick with our diets and exercise regimens, spend less money, become better organized with our credit cards, or manage our time better, just to name a few.

We start the new year with really good intentions, revved up with motivation.  Gradually, though, our level of motivation diminishes as the year goes on and can become nonexistent.

Research suggests that approximately 44% of all Americans make New Year’s resolutions. Of those who do, half of them (at best, the studies have varied results) actually achieve their New Year’s resolutions. What is making it so difficult for us to follow through on our resolutions? Why do we lose motivation halfway through the process?

Perhaps the answer to those questions lie in the strategy or approach used to accomplish such a goal (resolution). 

Goal-setting strategies

When it comes to goal setting, many use the SMART method as a guideline. That acronym stands for setting specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, time-based goals. Another option is the HARD method, which can be equally effective, and may even increase your chances of staying fully committed to your resolution for much longer. 

What is the HARD method for goal setting?

The following explains the HARD resolutions approach:

  • Heartfelt: A resolution should be something that means more to you and is more important than other things. For example, if weight loss is your resolution or goal, consider your reason behind wanting to attain this goal. What would it mean for you to lose weight? How will it enhance your quality of life? Then be specific about what you want, and even more specific regarding the steps you will take to get there (i.e. “I will go to the gym 3 times a week, watch what I eat, and lose 20 pounds by May”).
  • Animated: Resolutions should be vivid and alive in your mind. One way to maintain motivation is to make your resolution noticeable—to yourself and others. Write it down on paper. Get fancy with it. Add color and designs to your creation. This way you now have something visual to focus on every day. Lastly, find a spot to hang your creation so that you are able to look at it daily as a constant reminder of what you are doing and why you are doing it.
  • Realistic: Consider where you are in your life, and ask yourself if your goal is something that can be accomplished. For example, one might resolve in January to be out of debt by March. This may be attainable if your debt is not too high. However, if it is on the high side, you may want to consider the time it took to accumulate your debt and give yourself time to repair it while also being responsible for your other monthly debts.
  • Difficult: Resolutions should challenge you. A word of caution however—you do not want your resolution to be so difficult that you eventually give up trying. 

Be balanced in your decision when choosing a resolution, and recognize that obstacles and setbacks will occur throughout your journey. Keeping a logbook and reaching out for support through family and friends can also help you stay on track and committed to your New Year’s Resolution.

For more ideas on making healthy changes, visit the Lifespan Living blog.

Lifespan Blog Team

The Lifespan Blog Team is working to provide you with timely and pertinent information that will help keep you and your family happy and healthy.