How To Make Your New Year’s Resolution Stick! — A Message from Meaghan Mikkelson
With the holidays coming to an end and a fresh year beginning, it’s the time when many of us set our New Year’s resolutions. Year after year, we hear stories of individuals who make resolutions with great intentions of staying committed to them, only to hear a few weeks later that they haven’t lasted — in the end, they just could not stay committed. At the beginning, we are committed, motivated and excited about embarking on the path to success in achieving our resolutions — swearing that this year’s path will be different than last year’s (which did not go quite as we had envisioned!).
I, like many of you, set a New Year’s resolution every January 1st. But many years in high-performance athletics have led me to view these resolutions in a different light, and I now approach them in a planned fashion. As a fortunate winner of gold medals at the Winter Olympics and the Ice Hockey Women’s World Championships, I’ve learned much throughout my career about the importance of setting goals. Setting New Year’s resolutions is not unlike setting goals: you state a desirable outcome that requires action to achieve. Goal-setting can be a powerful tool if executed properly — it’s something that I practise regularly. Setting long-term goals allows you to envision where you want to be at a future date; setting short-term goals helps you stay on track, motivated and focused while you get there.
I routinely use what’s called the “SMART” theory when setting my goals: they must be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound. Rather than simply stating a vague goal — such as “I want to become a better hockey player” or “I want to play in the Olympics” (which is great to have as a vision!) — create your long-term goal using the “SMART” theory. Then, more importantly, use short-term goals to create a plan for reaching your long-term goal. For example, I have a long-term goal “to play for Team Canada in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia.” I also have short-term goals: daily and weekly benchmarks that allow me to reach my long-term Olympic goal progressively, while staying motivated and committed and keeping myself honest.
So, this year, when you set your New Year’s resolution — no matter what area of your life it applies to — ask yourself these questions: Is my resolution Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound? What about the short-term goals I have set to achieve this resolution — are they “SMART” too? What is my plan? What will I do on a daily basis to achieve it?
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