When was the last time that you successfully stuck to a New Years resolution? Struggling to remember even once? You’re not alone; only 8% of Americans managed to reach their goal last year, and the majority of people fail within the first 7 days. The mistake we’re all making: trying to rely solely on willpower. It’s exhausting and so eventually, most of us give in.
You’re far more likely to succeed if you do some planning up front and engineer certain factors to influence you into making the right choice, without having an internal battle of wills each time. Then, sticking to the goal becomes the easier option.
The factors that influence our behavior and choices can be grouped under personal, social and structural factors. The model below provides a framework for how to approach your goal planning.
Here’s an example for a goal to walk 10,000 steps a day.
Personal Motivation: Reflect each morning on how you want to age well and stay healthy.
Personal Ability: Setting the goal at 5,000 rather than the recommended 10,000 daily steps may be more achievable as an initial goal. Plan to park further from work to include a 15-minute walk into your daily commute.
Social Motivation: Enlist family, neighbors or work colleagues into committing to this goal too. Perhaps make it a group challenge using a Fitbit or similar step counter.
Social Ability: You could join a weekend walking group in your area and look for blogs that suggest good trails nearby.
Structural Motivation: Set a daily reward for each day that you hit your step count goal. Maybe you get to escape doing a house chore or earn a mini massage. You’ll know best what serves as a carrot for you!
Structural Ability: Put a reminder of your goal in eyesight of where you keep your car keys. Set a reminder on your phone alarm to go for an evening stroll. Perhaps dust off your bike for local trips (as biking counts as steps too surely…)
Test out this approach for a smaller goal and then you’ll be all set come January to be one of the 8% who smash their goal.