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How to Adhere to your Goals

Achieving Your Personal Goals

The New Year is prompting many people to make resolutions. Despite the good intentions to improve their health, many are abandoning their goals very quickly. A 2015 Ipsos survey concluded that 31% of Canadians had New Year's resolutions and 73% of them quit not long after. I want to share with you in this blog a few strategies to help you with your New Year’s resolutions.


The mere fact of wanting a result is superficial, and often insufficient. Everyone may want to quit smoking, lose weight; but the challenge is to go all the way. Successful people probably did so because they had an "intrinsic" motivation, that is, a strong internal feeling that fueled their desire to succeed. This feeling can be created as a result of a traumatic event in their surroundings that would have caused people to make changes to avoid a similar tragedy in their personal life, a story heard that would have become a source of inspiration, or perhaps simply wanting to become a role model for their children to show them good habits. Find your intrinsic motivation to ensure success.


We all did at one point a grocery list, a travel itinerary, a business plan, or a family budget. The purpose of writing on a piece of paper is to detail the actions needed to ensure success, to evaluate progress and to correct in the event of a error along the way. Resolutions are no exceptions. It is essential to write down our long-term goals and the short-term (daily) actions that are necessary to achieve our goals. I admit that writing a plan can be an arduous process that requires deep thought, but which is definitely worth it.


Attempting a new adventure guarantees failure (or if you prefer "lesson learned"). The human being is flawed and to err is human. Anything can happen at any time. The important thing is to recognize this moment of weakness, correct the situation to get back on track and avoid making the same mistake again. Never give up and continue your plan (previous paragraph).


Do not think you can succeed on your own. We all need another person to encourage us, to give us advice or simply to listen attentively as needed. Your accountability partner could be someone who actively participates in the same New Year’s resolution as yourself, or someone with whom you could communicate on a daily basis to tell them which actions you will be taking the next day towards your goal. One finds an enormous sense of accomplishment when announcing to another person "mission accomplished!” after completing the task.


It is important to have fun in life and reward yourself from time to time. Bringing a resolution to term can take several months or even years. To ensure adherence to your goals, it will be important to reward yourself frequently when you reach a "mini-goal". For example, if your ultimate goal is to lose 40 pounds, you could reward yourself for every 5 pounds lost. A scientific study has even shown that immediate (frequent) rewards predict a long-term adherence to goals (Woolley K., Fishback A., Personality and Social Psychology, 2016)


Wishing you all the best!

Author- Marco is a physiotherapist with a career extending over 21 years. His main clinical interest is the treatment of back pain. He completed his Bachelor of Science (Physiotherapy) at Université Laval (Quebec City) in 1996 and his Masters of Clinical Science (Manipulative Therapy) in 2009 at Western University (London, Ontario). He became a fellow of the Canadian Academy of Manipulative Physiotherapy (FCAMPT) in 2009. His treatment philosophy is to empower his patients so that they become self-reliant mostly thru education and active rehab program. "Exercise is the best remedy."