With vacations, picnics, ball games and maybe some mini golf, there’s a plethora of fun to be had in summer, and it feels so good. According to numerous research studies, summer really is a happy season. With lower stress and increased serotonin levels from all the sunshine, it’s the perfect time to use your positivity to reenergize the healthy resolutions and intentions you may have set at the beginning of the year.
“People often choose changes that appear reasonable when they are fully energized by the start of a new year and ready for brand-new possibilities,” says Margaret Moore, founder of Wellcoaches Corporation and author of Organize Your Emotions, Optimize Your Life (William Morrow, 2016). “However, it’s easy to skip deeper reflection on one’s vision for optimal wellness and then best first steps.”
In other words, simply setting a goal and making a resolution without laying your personal groundwork for change is not enough to be successful. That groundwork includes reflecting on the pros and cons of the change you desire (to recognize your motivation and resistance), developing strategies to deal with challenges that come up and ways to recover quickly, and learning to ask for help from others, explains Moore.
That said, resolutions do “remind us to recommit to one’s best self and reflect on a better future,” says John Norcross, Ph.D., a resolutions researcher and author of Changeology: 5 Steps to Realizing Your Goals and Resolutions (Simon & Schuster, 2012), and they work better than many people realize, if given the proper planning and time.
If you feel like you’ve fallen off the wagon to follow through on a New Year’s goal or resolution, begin again now, because you’re likely already doing some of it. Research shows that, in summer, people exercise the most and eat the most fruits and vegetables.
5 Steps to Achieve Goals and Resolutions
By following the below, Moore says you can create positive changes and achieve goals and resolutions at any time of the year.
Clarify your compass direction. Where are you heading?
Ask yourself, “Why is this direction important enough to motivate me to stay on track?”
Reflect on your strengths around this intention to increase confidence. Also, find your vision, a mind-set that invites inspiration rather than demand. Typical resolutions can feel taxing. Instead of dreading your changes, find what you’re good at and what works—and do more of it!
Experiment with behavior/habit change one to two changes at a time. Norcross’ research shows that working on two compatible habits together, such as eating healthier and exercising, is especially effective.
Go step by step. The brain can grow only one millimeter of network a day, so taking it a day at a time aligns with the pace of biology. Small steps add up to big, sustainable progress.