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Goal setting vs resolutions: Focus on the process

If you’re tired of making resolutions every year only to be disappointed, maybe it’s time to try something new. Let’s Get Moving Host Maria Shilaos speaks with Brett McIff the Utah Health Department’s Physical Activity Coordinator about how to focus on goal setting vs resolutions in the new year. 

Goal Setting vs Resolutions

“New year’s resolutions are nothing more than a to-do list for your first week of January,” Brett McIff explained. “Once we get past that first week most people have already fallen off the wagon and then feel horrible about themselves for the rest of the year.”

“Let’s not do that,” expressed McIff. 

According to McIff, in comparison to goals it could even be something simple as setting the intention that you are going to achieve some level of activity, that will be positive to mental or physical health throughout the year. 

Focus on the process

“Now for some reason, we have got this crazy idea that we want to start doing the most difficult things and make the most challenging changes to our lives at the darkest and coldest most miserable times of the year,” McIff stated. 

We need to stop and reflect on what we need to do, according to McIff.

“Think less about our outcomes and more about our process,” said McIff.

Ask yourself: What are you going to do to actually make that happen?

“Unfortunately a lot of us are really good when we are setting new years resolutions to say, I will achieve this by this date…but how am I going to get there”

“Let’s focus on what those intentions are and recognize that you are going to fail,” McIff explained. “Somedays that cheesecake is going to call your name and you are going to give in and it is going to be fantastic.”

The whole idea is that the intention is that you’re going to be working better, therefore you start making the daily changes.

“Rather than if I do this I have fallen off the wagon and I am never getting back on,” McIff stated. “Really what you are doing is setting yourself for success every day, Rather than setting yourself up for failure once and then giving up for the rest of the year.” 


Stay mindful

What am I doing right now as opposed to constantly living in the future?

 “We always do – if I do this then I will be happy, if I achieve this then I will be happy,” McIff explained. “Well does that mean if you don’t do that or if you don’t achieve that you are going to be unhappy?”

Re-evaluate and pay attention to the here and now.

McIff explained that he feels the year  2020 gave us a fantastic chance to reset a lot of behaviors and hopefully pick up a few new ones along the way. 


Celebrate the little successes

If you are going to get up every day saying you are going to be more active today, just do it. 

“Don’t make it to the end of the day and continue to push it off,” said McIff.

Any kind of progress is going to be good progress, according to McIff.

It is easy to drop all the way back to a level of non-activity in an instant. So it is a commitment of every day to hold true to that intention of what you want to achieve. 

“If today didn’t happen, get up and try again tomorrow, McIff explained. “If we don’t push and if we don’t challenge ourselves nothing is going to change. “

“It’s all about balance, it’s all about realism, and it is all about where do I want to be, today tomorrow or next week,” explained McIff. “Rather than thinking about the outcome, am I meeting all of my little process goals along the way?”


“Is it fair to say that setting these intentions that it is more physiologically changing than physically?” Maria Shilaos asked.

“In most cases, it is never actually your body that is holding you back, it is almost always your mental willingness capability block of what am I able to do?” McIff explained. “It is very much a mental game, if we can start understanding a mental game the physical part will catch up.”

“If you do what you’ve always done you’re going to get what you’ve always got.” said McIff “Think about what your goals are; but, not as an outcome…I want to be this I want to achieve this… but what am I going to do to really say this is who I am now?”

“If we can just set those intermediate goals to say I am doing what I need to do daily I am going to be a better person and more capable of doing the things that need to be done,” McIff stated.


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