Improvement Resolutions: Why We Set Goals

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Jan 14 2020 Blogs

To kick start the New Year, we often find ourselves setting resolutions and goals for the year ahead. This month, we’re focusing on improvement resolutions. We’ll be sharing improvement goals for the year from across our programmes, staff and Twitter alongside a focused blog series that explores improvement resolutions, and how we can put them into practice, and stick to them!

Our first blog in the series comes from Sarah Lavin, Evaluation Officer. Sarah has a background in educational and business psychology and works across our range of programmes and consultancy work to provide qualitative and quantitative evaluation support.

According to a recent YouGov survey[1], the top 3 New Year resolutions for 2020 are losing weight, improving fitness and saving more money. We know that many people find keeping new year’s resolutions a challenge in itself with only 24% of Brits keeping all of the resolutions that they made last year and  less than half sticking to some of them.

New Year resolutions are usually about making personal change and setting goals for ourselves for the coming year. Research from psychology tell us that setting goals gives us the motivation to make change because we have something to work towards, whether it is to eat healthier, do more exercise, or save more money.  However, making too many resolutions, setting vague resolutions, or being too hard on ourselves when we slip up can prevent us from sticking to our goals.  So what can be done to avoid the pitfalls, keep motivated and stay on track when it comes to New Year resolutions?

Here are some easy pointers that can help you when planning and sticking to your resolutions.

  1. Set a clear goal

Be specific about what you want to achieve and don’t make too many resolutions at once. Create something which is specific, can be measured, is realistic and has a time frame. Don’t be absolute or you could feel like you have failed if you don’t stick to it. Start small if necessary to show yourself that you are making progress and then build from there.

  1. Plan ahead

Look for strategies to help you achieve your goal and make it easier. For example, if you want to reduce the time you spend on social media, you could have a set time each day when you turn your phone off or delete any apps during that time to avoid temptation.

  1. Get support

Getting support from friends, family or colleagues and setting goals together can also help you to keep motivated and stick to your plan. This can be through things such as going to the gym together, making project plans or setting planning meetings and deadlines.

  1. Positive mindset

Don’t let negative thoughts stop you from pursuing your goal. Putting yourself under pressure by telling yourself that you ‘must’ or ‘should’ do something is unhelpful. It’s more helpful to see a resolution as something that you would like to achieve but also tell yourself that it’s ok if you don’t manage to stick to it all the time. Changing habits takes time and the odd slip up does not mean that you should give up!

  1. Monitor progress

By setting smaller goals as steps to achieving your overall goal you can celebrate small wins which motivate you along the way and give you feedback about how you are doing. You can also evaluate your plan to achieve your resolution as you go and change your approach if you realise that something isn’t working for you.

Our next blog in the series will focus on putting goals into practice and what this might look like for Quality Improvement.

Don’t forget! You can get involved over on Twitter by using #improvementresolutions and tagging us @AQuA_nhs.


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