A life coach reveals the realistic resolutions you should make — and which ones to skip

Business Insider US
This New Years, set realistic goals for yourself.
Yana Paskova/Getty Images
  • According to Statista, the top New Year's Resolutions of 2019 were eating better, exercising more, and to lose weight.
  • On average, 80% of New Year's resolutions fail.
  • The key to setting realistic resolutions is to aspire towards a few, small goals over the course of the year.
  • The most unrealistic resolutions are lofty, broad, and set with the intention to achieve happiness.
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2019 came, and then it went. Kind of like the laundry list of New Year's resolutions that were made on January 1, only to be ditched soon after. For the record, according to U.S. News, 80% of New Year's resolutions fail, so if the scenario sounds all too familiar, at least you're of the majority, right?

But 2020 is on the horizon, and it's going to be the year you make resolutions and actually keep them. To find out how, Insider reached out to impact coach Katie Sandler for her input on how to take your aspirations from overreaching, to realistic.

You're going to have trouble following through with your New Year's resolutions if your plan of attack is too broad

"Whether people are wanting to change a 'bad' behaviour, set new personal or business goals, and overall, improve on one's well-being, everyone is setting an intention for the year to come," Sandler told Insider. "Winter, being symbolic of rebirthing, a time for a clean slate, brings so much hope, romance, and optimism within the intention of sloughing off the old and unwanted and starting anew."

The problem is that oftentimes people will set the bar a little too high for themselves. It's not that you don't want to make a change; you just aren't setting small, realistic goals you can gradually meet now, to achieve your big-picture aspirations down the line.

For example, let's say you've been meaning lose weight for years, but your plan of action to do so has always been the standard "eat better, and exercise more often" approach. If this strategy backfired in the past, Sandler said it's no coincidence.

"If you recognise that you would benefit from working with a professional around the behavioural awareness needed for real change and success [in losing weight] - this a much more realistic and tangible form of goal or intention setting."

The same concept applies to any business or career aspirations you might be working towards

"Simply stating you want to double your sales in a year without the context in which you're doing that will rarely end up in triumph," Sandler explained. "But, if you put your numbers in front of yourself, break your year down quarterly and increase sales per percentage, per quarter, with a tangible bullet point strategy, well then, that is a plan to prosper!"

So what kind of resolutions should you make, and how should you go about executing them?

According to a Statista survey, the top New Year's Resolutions in the US were to eat healthier, get more exercise, and try to lose weight. Looking towards 2020, Sandler said the best and most realistic goals to set are ones that can be broken into small-sized tasks.

"I often work with clients and utilise a method I like to call 'chunking.' This is when we break the New Year down into three-month intervals and clients set goals per interval," Sandler explained.

The concept behind "chunking" is to break down your overarching goal into four smaller goals so that the end result you're aspiring towards feels more surmountable. Each of the four three-month intervals within the year will be dedicated to one specific goal, Sandler told Insider, so by the time you're ready to ring in 2020, your greater aspiration has been met.

"By recognising just how fast time flies and that all good things don't happen overnight," Sandler said, "you're able to practice patience and focus, which are key to achieving those wonderful New Year Resolutions."

A few examples of realistic goals you can absolutely meet over the course of the next 365 days are things like becoming a more mindful person (how can you live in each moment with a sense of presence, and well-being), planning something big to look forward to (a trip to Europe, buying a ticket to your first Broadway play, running a race), financial goals (setting a budget), practicing kindness (towards others, and yourself), or striving to learn a new skill, Sandler told Insider.

As for resolutions to avoid, Sandler told Insider any long-term, lofty goals should be crossed off the list

"For example, don't make a goal to lose 20 - 40 pounds over the next however many months," she explained. "Instead, set an intention to make better eating decisions, learn to have mindful conversations around food choices, and set goals to exercise at least two times per week."

And most importantly, steer clear of setting intentions to achieve happiness

"For example, "When I achieve partner in the firm, then I will be happy." Or, "If I don't reach this goal then I failed."

"It doesn't have to be either or and our happiness doesn't need to be based on the success of these resolutions," Sandler said.

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