Redefining Resolutions: Crafting Meaningful Goals for a Fulfilling 2024

As the fireworks faded into the night sky, marking the dawn of 2023, Emma found herself reflecting on the year that had passed. Like many, she had started 2022 with a list of resolutions – lose weight, eat healthier, exercise more – the usual suspects. But as December rolled around, those goals seemed as distant as the stars twinkling above her. She wondered, “Why do I set these goals year after year only to see them fade away?”

This year, Emma decided, would be different. It was time to set goals that truly mattered, goals that would not only improve her health but also bring joy and fulfillment to her life. As she pondered this new approach, she realized the importance of setting SMART goals – goals that were Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-Based.

top 10 new year resolutions 2023 according to ipsos
top 10 new year resolutions 2023 according to ipsos

The Problem with Traditional New Year's Resolutions

Statistics show that about 80% of New Year’s resolutions fail by February (Source: U.S. News & World Report). This high failure rate often stems from setting unrealistic or vague goals. For instance, a study by the University of Scranton found that only 8% of people achieve their New Year’s goals.

1. Rethinking Weight Goals: Beyond the Scale

If weight is your entire goal, you have the wrong focus – focusing on the number on a scale is for sure going to fail you.  A number that means absolutely nothing will only teach you to feel bad about yourself and your body, make you feel not enough while sabotaging your greatest effort and progress.  Other factors like physical activity, nutrition, socioeconomic status and mental health are equally important, and body weight isn’t always an accurate indicator of health.

 

Emma learned that focusing on the number on the scale can be misleading.  Instead, she decided to focus on how she felt – her energy levels, mood, and overall well-being.

2. Setting SMART Goals: A Path to Success

Most New Year resolutions consist of a 180 degree change in your lifestyle, and you might be tempted to want to change everything at once (Exercise more, eat healthier, wake up earlier, be more organized…) !  If your diet changes have you screaming at the fridge not knowing what you can eat anymore, it is definitely not sustainable long term.  Run through this simple exercise to see if your goals are set for success:

Specific – get super clear on what you want to achieve and why this is important to you

  • What do you want to accomplish?
  • Why is this goal important to you? 
  • Who is your support system? 

Measurable – keep track of your progress so you can look back at what you have achieved

  • How much? How many?
  • How will you know when it is accomplished?

*Note: weight is a false measurement of your progress because it’s not directly related to your actions.  It’s much more productive to measure things that you can account for right away and take action on such as “exercise 15 mins 3x/week, eat 5 fruits and vegetables everyday, have family meals once a week, take a day off every month”.

Achievable – take small steps so your goals are achievable 

  • Is this goal achievable based on your specific circumstances? 
  • How can you achieve this goal?
  • Do you have the time and resource to achieve this goal? 

Relevant – another check in to see if your goals are realistic and relevant for you

  • Is this goal worth your time and effort? 
  • Is this the right time?
  • Will this goal sacrifice other important areas of your life?

Time-Based – a timeline to re-evaluate your goals and progress

  • When will you re-evaluate your goals? For how long will you be working on the goals? 
  • What can I do today? a month from now? 6 months from now?

Emma broke down her goals into specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-based objectives. For example, instead of a vague “eat healthier,” she aimed to include at least three servings of vegetables in her daily meals.

3. Goals That Spark Creativity

There’s a common saying that “changes are hard“, we tend to revert back to our old habits easily because we don’t actually enjoy the changes we’re making.  What if we start setting goals to do more things that make us happy, make us smile, make us look forward to everyday? A recent study in the Journal of Positive Psychology (Tamlin, Conner, DeYoung & Paul, 2016) indicates that engaging in a creative activity just once a day can lead to a more positive state of mind. 

 

Emma decided to include goals like cooking a new healthy recipe each week, which she found both enjoyable and fulfilling.

4. Embracing Flexibility: The Key to Long-Term Success

Most goals aren’t reasonable to do everyday no matter how much we look forward to doing it!  Life happens and you will “get off track”.  Taking a break from your goals is not failing, it’s attending to other priorities and living your life.  The people who can stick to their goals are ones who can be flexible and move forward!  Remember the big picture, be kind and compassionate to yourself and strive for progress not perfection.

 

Life is unpredictable, and rigid goals can set us up for failure.  Emma learned to be flexible, understanding that it’s okay to adjust her goals as needed.

Conclusion: The Role of a Dietitian in Your Journey

As we embark on this journey together, we invite you to share your goals for the New Year. What are they, and what support do you need to achieve them?

 

A registered dietitian can help you get a clear direction for your goals and work together with you to make meaningful and sustainable changes.  Find a local dietitian here and book your first consult today! Here is to your best year yet! 

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