Rethinking New Year's Resolutions: How to Set Achievable Goals in 2019

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2019 is just around the corner—another chance to take inventory of the successes and slip-ups of the year prior and to look hopefully at the possibilities of a new year ahead.

While we may be sporting a #1 Fan hat over here when it comes to making New Year’s resolutions, we know that not everyone is as enthusiastic at the chance to set new goals as we are. “I never reach my New Year’s resolutions, so why make them anyways?” you might be asking.

Maybe the reason you’re not reaching your goals is that you’re simply not setting your goals the right way.

It’s not uncommon for us to sit down on January 1 and make a list of 30 lofty goals that we’d like to achieve in the new year: Lose 30 lbs! Go the the gym every day! Cut out sugar from our diets completely!

It’s as if we think a new calendar year will sprinkle fairy dust over us and create a whole new level of motivation that we have never experienced in years past. New year, new you! the sparkly Pinterest quotes proclaim.

Not quite.

A new you is absolutely possible. But the secret to a new you is more than just a 3-page long list of all the ways you’re going to change in the next 12 months. The secret to a healthier you is all about your habits.

If you’ll remember from our Goals Series from last year on the Dallas Iron Fitness blog, we sang from the gym rooftops the praises of habits—and why self-awareness of our habits is the key to making and keeping our New Year’s resolutions.

In The Power of Habit, author Charles Duhigg explains why developing one healthy habit sets you up for success in other areas of life:

“When people start habitually exercising, even as infrequently as once a week, they start changing other, unrelated patterns in their lives, often unknowingly. Typically, people who exercise start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed.”

That’s science, y’all.

So what’s the takeaway as we pour ourselves a glass of champagne and clink our glasses to 2019?

Don’t try to overhaul your life all at once.

It’s time to rethink New Year’s resolutions.

Consider breaking your goals down into monthly focuses, rather than writing a list of 483 goals on January 1 and promptly forgetting about all 483 of them come January 8.

For example, you might have a goal in 2019 to “focus on my health.” This is great—your physical health affects every other part of your life—your emotions, your stress, your work, your relationships.

But how many other years have you made this goal and reached December 31 only to realize that you went to the gym approximately 0 times that year and ate a vegetable maybe once every 3 weeks?

Leverage the power of habits to reach your goal of getting healthier.

We repeat: Don’t try to overhaul your life all at once. The cliche “baby steps” is popular for that reason—a baby doesn’t suddenly learn to sprint an hour after taking her first step. Neither do we.

Break that goal of “getting healthier” down into monthly focuses.

In January, you might focus only on developing a habit of regular exercise. You set the goal of going to a workout class twice a week and using your lunch breaks to take a walk around the block.

The key is that you’re not trying to overhaul all the other areas of your life at the same time, suddenly eating only kale salads and meditating every day to reduce stress.

Remember: As you work to develop a habit of regular exercise, you’ll naturally begin to develop other healthy habits.

In February, you might then shift focus to your diet (while continuing the exercise habit that you’ve developed in January), adding in whole foods, like vegetables, fruit, and lean protein, and cutting down fast food to only a couple times a month.

In March, you might focus on developing healthy sleep habits. In April, you might consider adopting a stress-reduction routine, like yoga, meditation, prayer, or journaling.

As the year progresses, you use each month to tackle a new portion of your goal.

By breaking your overarching “get healthy” goal down into monthly focuses that develop healthy habits, you may just find that come December 31, 2019, you actually achieved your goals this year.

This monthly goal-setting technique applies to any resolution: writing a book, learning a new language, finally going after that “dream job” you’ve always wanted.

Why not give it a try and set achievable goals you’ll actually reach this year?

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Not sure where to begin when it comes to developing an exercise routine?

We’ve got you covered with our e-book: 30 Days of Health & Fitness: Your Meal Plan & Workout Guide.

It’s packed full with 30 pages of expert-guided meal plan and workouts to get help you get started in the new year!

(Pssttt… and if you haven’t heard yet, Dallas Iron Fitness is opening a gym in early 2019! Get the deets here.)