Resolutions & Goal Setting

As we are not too far into the start of a new year, a common topic of conversation is resolutions and it was a resolution made towards the end of last year that got me writing this in the first place.  To be honest, I generally hate the kind you make on New Year’s Eve – they often involve alcohol (i.e. the giving up or lessening consumption of) but they tend to last only as long as the next function you attend where your friends/colleagues are drinking  and all your good intentions fly out the window.

I prefer to make my resolutions in the cold (sober) light of day, often deliberating for days or weeks (I so love procrastination) until I come up with a target that is achievable but at the same time, requires me to lift my game.   Sometimes I’ll reflect weeks later and ask myself ‘what the hell was I thinking’.  Generally in these instances, it’s not so much that the target was unrealistic, it’s just that I didn’t put enough effort in to ensuring I could achieve it in the timeframe I’d given myself.  It’s important to plan not only what you want to achieve, but how you want to achieve it.  This is probably why so many resolutions made in haste on NYE fail so dismally – there’s a lack of thought on HOW you’ll achieve whatever goal it is you want to achieve.

Dean Dwyer has some great advice on coping with the transition to paleo and I think his strategies can be applied to achieving many objectives, not just adopting a paleo lifestyle.   Planning is a huge key to success.  Know the environment you’re going into – will people be drinking? what will they be eating?  If you’ve sworn off alcohol, then the last place you want to be is to be out on a big boozey night where everyone else is drunk.  Likewise, if you’re doing a Whole-30 challenge, now might not be the best time to catch up with your mates at the local pizza shop.  Suggest a different venue – go out bowling instead of to a bar, or pick a restaurant you know will have steak and salad on the menu.  Plan in your mind what you’re going to do and even say, before you get there.  Sometimes saying nothing may be the best strategy (see Dean’s post).  If you’re going out for the day, and you know there won’t be food you can eat, take it with you or make sure you eat beforehand so you won’t be tempted by hunger (I do this when going to the races or football – the usual offering is pies or sausage rolls or mayo soaked sandwiches).  I eat a good meal before heading out and take activated walnuts and/or shaved coconut in a zip-lock bag to snack on.   And if you sincerely don’t think you’ll be able to get through the event without caving in, then declining the invitation may be the best strategy, or at least postponing, until you’re confident in your ability to say “no thank you”.

If your goal is to exercise 3 days a week, put it in your calendar.  Make an appointment with yourself to exercise as you would schedule any other important event.  If you’re going to be travelling for work, plan how you can do your exercise while you’re away (even if it’s just a walk around the park before breakfast or push-ups, squats, lunges and tricep dips in your hotel room).  Plan to succeed.  Don’t plan, and you plan to fail.

For further reading on motivation and setting and achieving objectives, I recently came across the very thought-provoking website Marc and Angel Hack Life.  A number of items in this particular post resonated with me.   “Nobody can go back and start a new beginning, but anyone can start today and make a new ending.”

Thanks for reading.


  • Keir says:

    Nice one Amanda. In terms of sticking to goals, there’s nothing like putting your program into one of the many sites that let you enter goals and log your progress for everyone to see. I use (specific to multisport) and am inspired by what others do and hate dropping down on the leader board! Nothing wrong with a bit of competitive tension!

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