I really don’t know when and how this tradition started with New Year’s promises or a New Year's resolution, where a person resolves to change an undesired trait or behaviour to accomplish a personal goal or otherwise improve their life.
There are historic parallels, from Romans making promises to the god Janus to the Medieval knights who reaffirmed commitment to their own individual behaviour and codes of conduct. It seems to be fairly spread throughout the world and especially in the western hemisphere.
Recent studies showed that roughly 50% of Americans make these kind of promises every year and that half are likely to succeed. Perhaps more remarkable is that those people who chose to make resolutions were ten times more likely to succeed than those making behavioural changes at other times of the year!
So it works somehow and the good thing for you is that success rates can be improved upon. How? I hear you ask. By using SMART methodology and setting up clear objectives. SMART is an abbreviation for Specific – Measurable – Attainable – Relevant – Time related and it is used when setting up and testing goals in general. It is more likely you will reach your goal if it is articulated in a positive way. So instead of promising to ‘stop eating fast food’ because your BMI is too high, it is better to promise yourself to ‘reach my ideal weight’ by eating healthier food. So let us take that example through the SMART methodology.
The goal is to reach your ideal weight by eating healthier food:
Specific – Your weight is very specific and I think most people can distinguish between good and bad food just by reading the list of ingredients on the packaging, or by using Google.
Measurable – Use a bathroom scale. You can either continue to eat unhealthy food or you can change your behaviour.
Attainable – Is the goal really acceptable to you? Compare the effort, time and other costs against the overall profits, obligations and priorities you have in life.
Relevant – Is this really important to you? If it is, then the chances of you succeeding are much higher.
Time related – When do you want to have reached your specific weight. By a specific date presumably but sometimes it is good to put milestones in along the way.
In addition you can improve your chances of success by writing it down and telling the world about your promise. If you then manage to keep to your promise for more than 60 days then you are almost there!
Sounds easy doesn’t it! Of course it’s not, but hopefully by thinking SMART we can help make promises easier to fulfil in the future.