THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Gregg McBride Headshot

When It Comes to Setting (and Sharing) Goals for the New Year, Sometimes Less Is More

Posted: Updated:
Print
Alamy
Alamy

Okay, so it's the beginning of a new year. The dawn of the many promises we make to ourselves -- the same promises we often end up breaking. If you're like me, breaking promises you've made to yourself is a typical scenario for the month of January (not to mention sometimes for the first Monday of every week as well). After a number of years of making -- and breaking -- promises to myself (like the promise that I was finally going to lose my excess weight), I found that not only was I tipping the scales at more than 450 pounds, but I had also developed a very unhealthy self-loathing. This is when I realized that perhaps the fewer promises (or resolutions) I made for the new year, the better.

Back in the day, when I was wearing (out) a 60-inch belt, I would spend most of December telling everyone (even strangers) what I planned to accomplish in the new year. Not only was I going to achieve world peace, I was also going to get skinny, be a better person, stop slouching, always pause to pet small animals and help every old lady I encountered cross the street (whether she wanted to cross the street or not).

But come New Year's Day (often as early as 12:01 a.m.), when I realized that all of these giant goals I set for myself weren't instantly attainable, I would start to work against them with reckless abandon -- carton of fried orange chicken in one hand, bowl of ice cream in the other (and a silly straw leading from my lips to a can of diet soda for added emphasis). I felt like everyone was watching and judging me -- especially since I had just spent so much time trumpeting the positive changes I was going to instantly make. So I would subconsciously do everything I could to overtly break said promises (aka goals or resolutions) in order to give people something to judge (true story!).

Then, one year, I approached the concept of goal setting and making resolutions a little differently. Sure, some of my goals were still lofty, but others were smaller and more easily attainable. Instead of giving up ice cream for the rest of my life, I decided to give it up after just one single meal (and see how that felt). Instead of committing to never eating junk food again, I opted to have more salads to balance the junk food out. And when it came to transforming myself into a supermodel, I decided that could happen instantly. Poof! I was a supermodel. Granted, I was a plus-sized one, but still...

To my surprise, this smaller, quieter way of goal setting actually began to work -- mainly because I'd broken the cycle of guilt that I'd always set into play by telling anyone who'd listen all the goals I was going to accomplish at the beginning of each year. By keeping quiet, I didn't feel compelled to check in with people (or worse, explain to them why a goal hadn't yet been met). Without this cycle of shame, I found my goals actually had a chance to gain more traction.

And no, accomplishing these latest sets of goals wasn't instant. Nor did changes take place overnight. In fact, one year I set out to lose all of my excess weight and began the month of January with fierce determination. Turns out, that month wasn't going to be the kick start that I'd hoped it would be. But because I hadn't shouted this goal from the highest mountain top, I didn't carry around as much shame when not attaining the goal right away. This goal was between me and my psyche. And, to my surprise, this goal did start to gain momentum in March of that same year. By the following March (a year later), I had dropped more than 250 pounds of excess weight (in a sane and healthy fashion). And this healthier weight was attained through smaller, quieter goals -- all approached one step (not to mention one breath) at a time.

So as you design your vision of what 2013 will hold for you, your life and your health, remember to take it slow, keep it simple and (perhaps) keep it quiet (between you and the universe). Much like that carton of fried orange chicken and the bowl of ice cream I mentioned earlier, sometimes less really is more.

2012-12-27-juststopeatingsomuchweightloss.jpg

For more by Gregg McBride, click here.

For more on personal health, click here.

From Our Partners