When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, the old adage is that you have usually quit by February. Setting goals for the year is great, but there is a right way and a wrong way to do it.
Life coach and author Kristin Sheffer (her book, Selfless Development: How to Find Your Purpose, is coming to the Kindle in January 2016) is all about helping women find joy in their lives that is sustainable—not fleeting. We chatted with her about how to make the perfect New Year’s resolutions—and keep them.
Women’s Running: What is the first thing to know about New Year’s resolutions?
Kristin Sheffer: The practice of making one or several overarching goals is not bad or wrong, it’s just often misunderstood. It is meant to be one step of the process, not the only step! Most people can barely remember what they did last month no less 12 months ago, because each day encompasses so much to be learned and overcome. So to make goals that are supposedly encompassing the next year’s worth of time is simply unrealistic and ultimately ineffective.
WR: Knowing this, is there a right way to make resolutions that you can actually keep?
KS: Making smaller, monthly goals is the key. Every goal, no matter how large, must be broken down to the daily extent in order to be realistically achievable. When enthusiasm runs high we tend to be overly optimistic with our commitments, believing we can totally stick to a 30 day work out plan—yet by day five we’re ready to quit. This happens when we set a goal that delivers no satisfaction until the end. By breaking it up daily, you essentially have 30 individual goals. Each one serves as a bite-sized success, generating further motivation. Before you know it you’re on day 30, feeling like a rockstar.
WR: What should people keep in mind when setting goals for themselves?
KS: The process of setting goals is somewhat of an art form—because it involves intimate self awareness together with practical resource management—so your success lies in the balance.
My top 3 goal setting tips are:
- Know what you want and be specific.
- Do not set a goal until you are ready to achieve it.
- Believe in your goals regardless of other peoples opinions.
We are beings comprised of four different categories: mind, body, soul and spirit—and each as important as the other. We work best when all parts function in unison with balance and harmony. This truth should be present when we are setting our goals and include one goal for each department.
The model I use with my clients is:
- Mind—choose a way to incorporate gratitude into your daily routine.
- Body—include something that cares for your health and fitness.
- Soul—choose a way to nourish your being (such as reading, taking a bath, meditating, etc).
- Spirit—choose a way to give back to your community.
WR: Do you think people lie to themselves when it comes to New Year’s resolutions? How can we stop this?
KS: I don’t believe most people willfully deceive themselves, but I believe it is easy to fall victim to the hype and excitement around this time of year. I love to see people energized and motivated to make changes in their lives, but often times they forget that success involves foresight and discipline. They dive in head first without having any plan or structure. You can combat this by harnessing all that amazing energy into building your action plan. Then you implement daily To Do’s and begin rewarding yourself for each successful day. Then, commit to have grace on yourself for the days you struggle.