Have you been thinking about a New Years Resolution?  Let me guess: losing weight, getting organized, spending less/saving more, and enjoying life to the fullest (last year’s top four resolutions).  Self-improvement or at least the desire for it is the most common New Year Resolution among Canadians.

But despite good intentions, only a tiny fraction of us keep our resolutions; according to the University of Scranton, only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

Why do so many people fail at New Years resolutions, and what are the secrets behind those who succeed?

As a Naturapathic Doctor and working with people on a daily basis desiring self-improvement I can share with you what I see consistently is a recipe for success when it comes to goal-setting and follow through. 

#1 One Step at a Time

The bigger the goal – the bigger the hurdle…  Many people use the New Year as an opportunity to make large bucket lists or attempt extreme makeovers, whether personal or professional.

It’s great to have big ambitions, but the average person has so many competing priorities that this type of approach is doomed for failure. Essentially, shooting for the moon can be so psychologically daunting, you end up failing to launch in the first place.

It’s more sensible to set small, attainable goals throughout the year, rather than a singular, overwhelming goal. This is also what we’d call making a lifestyle change.  If you have a big goal – great!  But you may want to consider breaking it down and making your goal flourish over several weeks or even months working towards it, one step at a time.

#2 Be Specific

Setting ambitious resolutions can be fun and inspiring, but the difficulty in achieving them can quickly change your excitement to frustration. That’s why goals should be specific.

A resolution to lose some weight is not that easy to follow because it doesn’t give direction.  It is much easier to follow a plan that says no potato chips, fries, or ice cream for six weeks.

Be very specific. Don’t say you’re “going to start going to the gym” in 2017—set a clear ambition, like attending a weekly spin class or lifting weights every Tuesday or Thursday. 

# 3 Track it Daily & Measure Your Success

In my experience, patients who track their goals in some fashion have the greatest success.  For example, if your goal is to hit a weekly spin class on Mondays and lift weight on Thursdays and Tuesdays, put it in your calendar and give yourself a big when you complete your goal or an big ý if you failed to.  This is a great way to stay connected to your goal and measure your success.  I suggest printing out the January calendar on a single page and post it somewhere you will see it several times per day.   Tracking your progress brings me to my next point…  Evaluate Regularly

#4 Evaluate Regularly

Despite having the perfect resolution and a fool-proof plan, within weeks people begin abandoning their goals as they hit bumps in the road that throw them off their stride.  More often than not, people who fail to stick to their goals blame their own lack of willpower and self-determination. 

Regularly evaluating the progress of your goal is the best way to stay on track and continue moving towards success.  After a few weeks of working on your goal you may realize that it’s going to take much more work then you anticipated, or you may even find themself in the opposite situation feeling your goal is easier than you thought and you may be ready for more of a challenge. 

Regularly evaluating your goal and making the necessary modifications to ensure ongoing success is key.  Ask yourself ‘how can the goal be modified to overcome hurdles?’  Then adapt your goal so you continue to make strides. Track and revaluate on a regularly basis, I suggest weekly. 

#5 Share your Goal & Seek Support

Sharing your goal with family, friends, and co-workers is a great way to build accountability and support.  Ask for their support and even give them specifics on how they can assist.  You may even want to take advantage of the power of social media, especially in our increasingly public lives, social media can be used as a motivator.

Seek support by pairing up with a partner who is also interested in making similar changes in their life.  Look for programs or support networks that have proven tools for success.  This is a big reason why I developed the EMPOWER U Lifestyle Transformation and Weight Loss Program.  I see first hand how one-on-one support and group work is so instrumental in helping my community achieve better lifestyle habits and reaching their health goals.  Find support that you connect with and that inspires you.

Happy & Healthy New Year!